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Countdown on to Women's Tour of Stratford

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TODAY, Tuesday, is only 100 days until Stratford-upon-Avon greets the world’s best female cyclists in the Aviva Women’s Tour.

The second stage of the competition ends in the town on Thursday, 16th June.

Among the 96 riders will be the likes of World Champion Lizzie Armitstead and reigning Aviva Women’s Tour Champion Lisa Brennauer.

The 140-kilometre stage will pass through the heart of the county, starting in Atherstone’s historic market square and winding its way through Warwickshire’s countryside, taking the riders through the University of Warwick campus, Kenilworth and Warwick town centres, before climbing to the highest points in Warwickshire, through Burton Dassett County Park, Edge Hill and Ilmington.

The race will finish in Stratford-upon-Avon, with highlights due to be shown on ITV4.

The University of Warwick is partnering with Warwickshire County Council to host the Warwickshire stage.

The five-day Aviva Women’s Tour forms part of the new UCI Women’s World Tour calendar, and is presently one of only four multi-day stage races on the season’s line-up of races for the world’s best riders and teams.

The UCI World Tour got underway in Italy over the weekend, with the Italian one-day classic Strade Bianche in Tuscany. The contest was won by 27-year-old Lizzie Armitstead.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “Warwickshire is giving its full support to the Aviva Women’s Tour and we are truly excited to welcome this significant event to our beautiful County.

"We intend to embrace the opportunities the Tour will bring, by showcasing the county as the best place to invest, live, work and visit as well as helping to encourage more women and girls into cycling and sport in general.

“A sporting event of this scale brings with it a number of key benefits, ranging from public health and education to economic growth and tourism, all of which are key priorities for the County.

"More importantly, the Aviva Women’s Tour puts Warwickshire on the international sporting stage and as a place that has the skills, infrastructure and environment to make it a great success. We will be working closely with business, communities and schools to maximise support and engagement before, during and after the Tour.”

University of Warwick Vice Chancellor, Professor Stuart Croft, added: "We want to encourage our staff and students to take up cycling as part of a healthy lifestyle and as an environmentally friendly form of travel, and we have therefore made a number of investments to establish new cycling routes and facilities and to provide more access to bikes for our staff and students.

"We are sure that this event will help us to inspire people to take up cycling or to cycle more.”

Aviva Women’s Tour Race Director, Mick Bennett, said: “Stage Two will be a first for SweetSpot as an organisation as it takes place within Warwickshire, a county we have never visited before.

"The stage takes place through some beautiful Warwickshire scenery with several testing climbs in the south of the county in the final third of the stage, before what we hope will be a very popular finish in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon.

“Many of the roads used are familiar to me from my training rides when I was a professional, so we know how good the area is for cycling, while we hope the proximity to the cities of Birmingham and Coventry will bring fans out to the roadside in large numbers.”

The Aviva Women’s Tour 2016 will begin at Southwold on the Suffolk coast and end in Norwich on Wednesday, 15th June.

Subsequent stages will take the race to Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire, before the final day of racing in Northamptonshire, between Northampton and Kettering, on Sunday, 19th June.

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