The UK’s first international women’s cycling stage-race takes place this month, with two of the five stages going through Suffolk. This exciting event has been awarded the top status by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and will feature some of the world’s top riders, including British Olympians Dani King, Laura Trott, Lizzie Armitstead and Joanna Rowsell. Marianne Vos, the reigning World and Olympic Road Race Champion, is also confirmed to ride in the race. Marianne is widely considered to be the greatest female cyclist to have ever lived, and it should be thrilling to see her participate in this race.

Suffolk is the ideal location for the race, with a unique mixture of winding country lanes, challenging climbs and technical circuits through town centres. As a backdrop for such a high profile cycling event, the world is able to see the very best that Suffolk has to offer. In addition, the event may encourage others to attempt cycling on their own and help Suffolk to become the most active county in England.

The five day race will take place in five stages, running from May 7 to May 11, with one stage taking place each day. The race takes place completely within the East of England, with the third and fifth stages moving through Suffolk. The first stage took place on Wednesday, May 7, from Oundle to Northampton and the second stage takes place today (Thursday, May 8) from Hinckley to Bedford. The third stage on Friday begins in Felixstowe, and then maneuvers through Brightwell, Little Bealings and Kesgrave. Once going around Ipswich, the cyclists will pass through Holbrook and Freston, cross the border into Manningtree and finish the stage in Clacton-on-Sea. On Saturday, the fourth stage will run from Cheshunt to Welwyn Garden City.

The fifth and final stage of the Women’s UK Tour will once again take place in Suffolk. After departing from Harwich and crossing into Suffolk, the cyclists will race through East Bergholt. This beautiful region features the charming villages of Constable Country and the spectacular landscape of Dedham Vale, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The race then moves through the Babergh District and the market towns of Hadleigh, Sudbury, Long Melford and Lavenham. Finally, the race winds through Great Finborough and Little Wilnetham before coming to the finish line on Angel Hill, Bury St. Edmunds.

There are a number of things to keep in mind for those wishing to view Stages Three and Five of the race in Suffolk. For most of the two stages, a rolling road closure will take place to accommodate the period of time when the race passes through the area. This is normally for just a short length of time running between 10 to 15 minutes. These rolling road closures will be indicated by police escort vehicles. The race route will be marked in advance with yellow warning signs to indicate that parking will be prohibited on the route on the day of the stage.

To ensure the safety of both spectators and the cyclists, spectators should be sure to keep children away from the edge of the road. As the cyclists may pass at a high rate of speed and overtake each other at the edges of the road, it is extremely important to keep flags and other objects clear from the road. The race route is guided by trained police officers and escort motorcyclists to ensure that the route is clear. Other general advice is that spectators should not attempt to touch the cyclists, hold objects such as cameras in the path of cyclists, or leave any objects in the road. If there are any pets, they should be kept on a leash and within a safe distance back from the road.

In addition to the exciting Women’s Cycling Tour, there will be a variety of cycling related activities taking place throughout Suffolk that are appropriate for all skill levels. Residents are encouraged to coordinate activities in their communities, such as designing flags or banners of support to cheer on the Olympic and world champion cyclists.

Kesgrave Hall Hotel in Suffolk is the perfect venue for afternoon tea, lunch or dinner as you catch a glimpse of the Women’s Tour action. Why not take advantage of one of our special offers and enjoy an overnight stay while you’re here?

If you’re attending Stage Five, then The Pier Hotel in Harwich is ideally located. With the day’s action getting underway in Harwich, arrive a day earlier and enjoy a relaxing stay, before watching the riders set off for the final stage of the event. You can dine in the Harbourside Restaurant or the Ha’Penny Bistro, enjoy one of our sailing break special offers or simply book an overnight room with breakfast.

+ Sue Bunting

Thu 8 May 2014, Milsom Hotels