The route for the opening stage of the 2019 Women’s Tour has been announced, with Suffolk hosting the Grand Depart.
Stage one of this year’s edition, which runs from June 10 to 15, will start in Beccles and finish in Stowmarket.
The 157.6km route will pass through Bury St Edmunds and Framlingham, which have both hosted Women’s Tour Grand Departs, in 2015 and 2017 respectively.
Race director Mick Bennett said: “I am delighted to unveil the route of the 2019 Grand Depart in Suffolk, especially given the amazing response generated by the announcement of our return to the county last month.
“We’re looking forward to visiting Beccles and Stowmarket on a route that will see the race take in a mix of familiar roads to the event, as well as many new towns and villages that have been crying out to feature.”
Organisers announced the course for the opening stage on International Women’s Day, and confirmed that for the second year running the prize fund will match that of the men’s Tour of Britain.
The Women’s Tour is Britain’s longest-running professional women’s race and is part of the UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar.
Bigla Pro Cycling rider Sophie Wright said: “The Women’s Tour coming to East Anglia this year is exciting for me as a racer, but also inspirational for local cyclists.
“It will definitely encourage more people to jump on their bikes and even have a go at riding the route, as well as providing so many locals with the opportunity to enjoy the spectacle from the roadside.
“I think it will give our sport some great exposure within the region, and I’m really looking forward to seeing that.
“It should be a brilliant day of racing, and hopefully there will be some nice weather to match.”
During its previous four visits to Suffolk, the race brought an estimated 250,000 spectators to the roadside.
Previous winners have included Marianne Vos in 2014, Lizzie Deignan in 2016 and Coryn Rivera last season.
Details of the remaining stages will be released over the coming weeks.