Oxfordshire will welcome the Grand Départ of the event for the first time in Women’s Tour history on Monday 04 October, when Bicester and Banbury host nearly 100 of the world’s best riders for the start of the prestigious race.
The 2021 Women’s Tour will begin in the Bicester’s Market Square, which comprises part of its historic town trail before riders eventually head north to finish in the market town of Banbury, which lies on the River Cherwell.
The 2021 Women’s Tour Grand Départ – the first or opening stage of the six-stage race over six days, will take place entirely in Oxfordshire.
The 147.6-kilometre route covers a large section of the county, heading as far south to Culham and the banks of the River Thames, before visiting Abingdon and Deddington on its journey north towards the finish in Banbury.
About 100 professional riders will set off from Bicester’s Market Square, completing a short northern loop that passes by secondary school students at The Cooper School on Churchill Road, before heading south past Graven Hill to Islip Village and on to Oxford.
In Oxford, will now go through New Marston, Marston and St Clements to The Plain, then all the way up the Cowley Road before heading out of the city towards Garsington via Blackbird Leys before reaching its southernmost point around the Culham Science Centre.
The group will then head back north through Abingdon, Cumnor, Eynsham, Bladon, weaving their way through towns, villages and rural areas, arriving in Bloxam to complete another loop past Hook Norton and Sibford Ferris, followed by a sprint into Banbury.
The full route is also available online.
2021 marks the second year that Oxfordshire will host the Women’s Tour. The county council and district and city councils are working in partnership with race organisers SweetSpot to deliver the event as part of a three-year commitment.
Different routes are planned each year to showcase the county’s diversity to a national and international audience. In 2019, stage 3 of the 2019 Women’s race started in Henley-on-Thames and ended at one of Oxfordshire’s most iconic locations, Blenheim Palace.
About 100 professional riders will weave their way through towns, villages and rural areas, inspiring local schools to organise themed sport and fitness lessons. Highlights of the race will also be screened on ITV4.
Created by SweetSpot Group in 2014, the Women’s Tour is the UK’s first international stage race for women, bringing the world’s top riders to compete in Great Britain as a part of the UCI Women’s World Tour.
In addition to its wider aims of promoting active and healthy lifestyles to women, the event has championed equality in sport, notably offering the same prize fund pro-rata as the men’s Tour of Britain.
The race, which has been won by the likes of Marianne Vos (2014), Lizzie Deignan (2016) and Coryn Rivera (2018), attracts an annual roadside audience of 300,000, as well as over three million fans through linear and online platforms.