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Thurlow Sports Club secretary hails timing of announcement that Haverhill will host the start of the final stage of The Women's Tour 2020

The announcement that Haverhill will host the start of the final stage of The Women’s Tour 2020 could not have come at a better time, according to Thurlow Sports Club secretary Allan Loveday.

He pointed out that the event will take place just weeks before the world’s best travel to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics, to add even higher stakes to an already elite event.

Riders in 2020 will tackle a route from Haverhill to Felixstowe in the seventh edition of The Women’s Tour, which will take place from Monday 8 to Saturday 13 June 2020 and is the UK’s only round of the UCI Women’s WorldTour this year.

The streets of Stowmarket were lined with enthusiastic cycling fans for the 2019 edition of the Tour
The streets of Stowmarket were lined with enthusiastic cycling fans for the 2019 edition of the Tour

Loveday said: “It’s an event the town has been keen to get involved in and felt we have missed out not being on the route in recent years.

“And this time it’s Olympic year, in fact, so I presume it will be a perfect opportunity for their final preparations.

“I think we could see all – or at least most – of the elite women competing and it will be almost a dress rehearsal to the Olympics; all the Dutch riders have competed in past events already, they are very strong in the women’s event.

“And for it to be the last stage is very exciting – it will bring the TV cameras and the town will be on ITV4, it’s going to put Haverhill on the map.”

Since 2014, The Women’s Tour has covered more than 560 kilometres of racing in Suffolk, with the county hosting the opening stage of the race in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019, as well as the final stage of the first edition in 2014. But Haverhill has, until now, missed out.

Loveday already helps organise – alongside Cycle Club Hackney – a national-level cycling race through the Thurlows each year, with a round of the Women’s Giro de Essex taking place in 2017 and the British Cycling Junior Women’s Road Series in 2018. He said he was delighted by the news and believes the race should start from Market Square.

“If it does start from there it would be fantastic,” he added.

It was in September 2010 when Stage 7 of the men’s Tour of Britain event last gave Haverhill a taste of international cycling.

Loveday remembers the atmosphere and benefits that brought and hopes the race in 2020 will be as well supported.

“It’s fantastic news for the town,” he said. “Ten years is a long time to wait for another cycling event of this standard, the last one was wonderful and people really showed their support. It’s great to see it come to fruition.”

Meanwhile, Haverhill Cycling Club chairman Jean Newlands said: “Haverhill Cycling Club are very excited by the news that the final stage of the Women’s Tour is to set off from our hometown.

“Year on year interest in our sport has been increasing in the local area and this has been reflected in our growing membership of the club.

“We are already in discussion with Abbeycroft Leisure to see how we can support the event in any way possible and we look forward to further discussions as more information becomes available in the coming weeks.

“The Women’s Tour comes hot on the heels of our own club Sportive which is taking place on May 24.

“This event will offer the opportunity for amateurs to take part in a similar style event on a somewhat lesser scale and may whet their appetites for what is to come with the professional race in June.”

The event, which is currently without a title partner following the conclusion of the three-year partnership with OVO Energy, was described in December by analysts Nielsen Sports as “the most globally recognised brand or event of the UCI Women’s WorldTour”.

In addition to Suffolk County Council and East Suffolk Council, the stage is also supported by local sponsors Palmer Group and Vertas Group, and West Suffolk Council and Babergh & Mid Suffolk Council.

More details of the 2020 Women’s Tour will be announced in the coming weeks as well as further information about the route of the Suffolk stage of the race.

It is not yet known how riders will cover the 150km route between Haverhill and Felixstowe.