By Nick Bull
The inaugural Women's Tour is in a "good place" five months out from the event, according to event director Guy Elliott, as the hunt for sponsorship continues.
Felixstowe was this week announced as the host for stage three, which completed the parcours for the five-day event [May 7-11].
Television coverage at home - courtesy of ITV4 and likely to be delayed highlights to begin with - and across Europe is in place, and teams from over the world are hoping to compete
"We've made great progress. Our stages are designed, and although we were always open about things like time trials, there was so much demand from towns that we're having five road stages to ensure a full compliment of host venues," Elliott told CW.
"There are already places wanting to host the event in 2015 and that's not any corporate talk, that's the truth. We're going to be on ITV4, and there's going to be European TV coverage, too.
"We've been mobbed from teams as far a field as South America and Australia, who want to take part. We're confident of getting all of the top 10 European squads, too. We have to invite them all, and we expect the majority will ride, which is likely to mean Lizzie Armitstead (left) and Emma Trott's Boels-Dolmans team will be in the race.
"We're hopeful of being able to have a couple of wildcard invites left for Britain's domestic teams, too. It's likely that one or two national teams will be those who decline the invitations, allowing a space or two for the British squads to ride."
The search for partners - ranging from a potential title sponsor or smaller backers - has proved more of a challenge to date, but Elliott is confident deals will be struck soon.
"We've got some companies on board already; for example Skoda have been really supportive from the start, and they will be providing significant resources just like they do for the Tour of Britain.
"We're looking at pushing a few more deals over the line. Five months out from the race, we're confident that they will happen, and we're looking at a local and national level in order to do that.
"In regards to a headline sponsor, that's always difficult, regardless of the event. It's a big commitment. But there are a variety of packages available, including what we call mid-tier sponsors, in which the race's jerseys are sponsored, just like the Tour of Britain. It's not as though we're exclusively after multi-million pound companies to sponsor the race."
Women's Tour 2014 - the full, confirmed route
"The course is fantastic, we're genuinely really excited about it and we think it will contribute to a really close race," said Elliott.
"Stage one is rolling, there's very little flat all day long. There aren't many notable climbs, but the terrain is rolling. It's very challenging, and it's one of those where a selection will be made en route to the centre of Northampton. Stage two into Bedford is similar to begin with, before it flattens out in the final 10 kilometres.
"Stage three is pan flat. We'll go through Ipswich shortly after the start, and I think there are likely to be echelons. I reckon a Dutch rider will win at the end of it, it will be that type of stage. Stage four is very demanding once again, before a relatively flat final day into Bury St. Edmunds."
Stage one, Wednesday May 7
Oundel to Northampton
Stage two, Thursday May 8
Hinckley to Bedford
Stage three, Friday May 9
Felixstowe to Clacton-on-Sea
Stage four, Saturday May 10
Cheshunt to Welwyn Garden City
Stage five, Sunday May 11
Harwich to Bury St. Edmunds
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