1. ITV Report

East hosts UK's first ever women's cycle tour

Male competitors for the Tour of Britain pass through Suffolk in September 2012 Photo: PA Wire

History is in the making today with the launch of the UK's first ever women's professional cycling tour, to be hosted by the East this spring.

The five-day international stage race will begin in the town of Oundle in Northamptonshire on the 7th of May, then head through Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Essex to the finish line at Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.

In Northampton this afternoon the event's organisers will officially unveil the first stage of the route, which will wind through the Northamptonshire countryside for 57.5 miles.

  • STAGE 1: Begins in OUNDLE at 11am

  • Travels through Grafton Underwood, Boughton House, Rushton, Desborough, Harrington, Brixworth, Spratton, Chapel Brampton, Althorp House, Rothersthorpe

  • Ends at DERNGATE in NORTHAMPTON at approximately 1.30pm

Over the next four days the race will continue through the East. Full details of the route will be announced in due course.

Guy Elliott, who is masterminding the Women's Tour, has lauded it as "the only cycling event in the world where women are not second best". Some of the world's top cyclists are due to take part, including Hertfordshire's Laura Trott who won Olympic gold at London 2012.

The East has already hosted the men's Tour of Britain, which passed through Norfolk and Suffolk in September 2012. This year the women's race will attempt to become the first to match up with the men's in terms of profile, and prize-money.

World cycling's governing body, the UCI, has given the women's event 2:1 status, enabling it to attract top riders. It comes in a year when, for the first time since 1989, women will cycle alongside men down the Champs-Elysees in Paris as part of a one-day event for the last day of the Tour de France.

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