Residents across the county will be able to cheer on elite riders when this year’s Women’s Tour professional cycling race returns to Oxfordshire this Saturday, 11 June.
Hosted for the third consecutive time by Oxfordshire County Council and the county’s city and district councils, Oxfordshire is the venue for the final stage of this year’s six-stage race.
Riders will be flagged off in Chipping Norton’s High Street at 11.00am on a 90-mile route that will pass through many picture-postcard locations, including taking in one of Britain’s most loved areas, the Cotswolds, to a finish along Oxford’s historic St Giles’ at around 3.00pm.
It will head as far north as Milcombe – a short distance from Banbury where Italian rider Marta Bastianelli triumphed in the 2021 race – before changing course and travelling south through West Oxfordshire towards RAF Brize Norton in Carterton.
Stage six will also visit Faringdon, Wantage and Abingdon in the Vale of White Horse and Didcot and Wallingford in South Oxfordshire, where a large section of the route will follow the stunning scenery of the North Wessex Downs.
Those watching at Burcot will have the thrill of welcoming the riders for the final sprint of this year’s tour, estimated at around 2.25pm. Riders will cross the River Thames using the Folly Bridge as the race enters Oxford from its south side.
In what promises to be a truly stunning end to the 2022 race, the Women’s Tour on Saturday will finish on the historic St Giles’ around 3.00pm.
Councillor Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “The Women’s Tour is a fantastic way to showcase our wonderful county to the world.
“I’m confident this event will support and raise awareness of cycling and its benefits, as well as bring an economic boost to our communities – so important as businesses recover from the pandemic. Hosting this prestigious race for a third time is a great collaborative effort between the county council and our local authority colleagues.”
There will be rolling road closures from 11.00am at the race start area in Chipping Norton, controlled by police and route marshals, which will continue along the route. This will involve highways and junctions, with access roads onto the route closing for short periods while the race passes through. The length of closure depends on how dispersed the riders are.
Road closure locations along the route, with predicted race timings, are listed on Oxfordshire County Council’s website.
The County Council expects economic and health benefits from hosting the prestigious event, with cycling fans expected to visit the county to watch the race, generating additional business for restaurants, bars, hotels, B&Bs and shops.
Over 100 professional riders will weave their way through towns, villages and rural areas, and it is hoped that local schools will be inspired to organise themed sports and fitness lessons.
Families are expected to line the route to cheer on competitors, turning the event into an exciting community spectacle. Spectators will be encouraged to use healthy and environmentally friendly transport to reach vantage points to watch the race.
Councillor Andy Graham, Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “It’s fantastic to have such a prestigious race taking place in our district, and it’s a great honour for Chipping Norton to be hosting the start of the race.
“We hope the Women’s Tour will leave a positive legacy with more people getting into cycling and making the most of our beautiful countryside in West Oxfordshire.”
Councillor Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for Health and Transport at Oxford City Council, said: “Oxford is extraordinarily beautiful, one of the most scenic cities in the world.
“As these amazing women ride through the city to a well-deserved hero’s welcome at St Giles’, they will see many of the things that make Oxford such a special place, from the first park and ride in the country to the ancient University colleges that have produced so many world-beating athletes.
“We hope to create a really festive atmosphere to celebrate the Women’s Tour ending in Oxford and will have lots of fun activities to keep the crowd entertained as they wait for the nail-biting finish.”
Councillor Eric de la Harpe, Cycling Champion at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “I’m very proud that we’ve been able to bring The Women’s Tour to Oxfordshire and I’m really excited to see a fantastic finale on 11 June.
“Like many sports, cycling can be seen as quite a male-dominated environment, but events like this can really help to encourage a new generation of female cyclists.
“Across the county, we are seeing many more residents join our growing cycling community and the Women’s Tour has played a real part in inspiring people to get on their bike, whether that’s to get around the local area, to improve health and fitness, or more seriously as part of a cycling club.”
Councillor Sam Casey-Rerhaye, Cycling Champion at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Coming just days after the Jubilee celebrations, the Women’s Tour will be another wonderful event for our communities to enjoy.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing people join with friends and family to line the streets to mark the occasion and cheer the riders on. I hope the event brings more visitors to the area on Saturday and that they make the most of our wonderful pubs, cafes and shops.