THE OVO Energy Women’s Tour cycling event will return to Warwickshire in June.
Leamington Spa will again host the end of a leg that will snake its way through the county on Friday, 15th June, for stage three of the five-stage race.
Organisers have said the 2018 event will retrace virtually the entire route used 12 months earlier, with the 151-kilometre stage beginning in Atherstone.
Riders are expected to travel through the likes of Warwick, Moreton Morrell, Wellesbourne, Ettington, Halford, Tredington, Upper Brailes, Upper Tysoe, Little Kineton, Kineton, Edge Hill, Burton Dassett, Fenny Compton, Southam and Upton before finishing in Leamington.
Sprint stages are in Kenilworth and Wellesbourne, while there will be two Queen of the Mountain climbs, one at at Burton Dassett Hills Country Park and the second on the outskirts of Allescote at Edge Hill.
The tour, which forms part of the UCI Women’s WorldTour, will begin in East Anglia, with five stages taking the race to Suffolk, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, before a final day’s stage through the Snowdonia National Park and a first overall finish in Wales.
Meanwhile, prize money in the Women’s Tour will equal that in the men’s Tour of Britain for the first time this year. Riders will share a total fund of just over €90,000, nearly three times up from last year’s offering of €35,000.
Mick Bennett, race director, said: “We are delighted to be able to launch the route for the fifth edition of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour from the Houses of Parliament, illustrating how in five years we have developed the race to what we believe to be the best event on the women’s cycling calendar.
“This year we have our most challenging route to date and are delighted to be working with the Welsh Government to bring the OVO Energy Women’s Tour to the Principality for the first time, for what we are sure will be a very well received final stage.
“As organisers, we are delighted by the increased commitment of OVO Energy in relation to prize money. Their passion and support for the event will further enhance the development of the sport as well as the Women’s Tour.”