Women’s international stage race planned for UK

Event aims to attract top professional riders

Lucy Garner winning her second junior world road race in Valkenburg, Holland, in 2012

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Plans are underway to bring the stars of international women’s cycling to the UK for a five-day stage race in 2014. It means pro riders such as multiple world champion Marianne Vos, Holland, could compete against homegrown talents like Lucy Garner and Lizzie Armitstead.

Race organisers SweetSpot revealed their plans last night, at the route announcement for the Tour of Britain, their flagship event, saying enthusiasm from athletes and potential sponsors was high.

Guy Elliott, director at SweetSpot said: “Our female athletes deserve more from us [organisers]. It’s unfair and unreasonable to expect women to race with men in all categories.

“We’ve spoken to some of the world’s best riders and we’ve spoken to some of the world’s best teams, and I can tell you the enthusiasm is incredible. We’ve been in initial talks with sponsors and councils and, without saying everything’s going to be easy, we’re going to have people clamouring to get this race if we get it right.”

Before going ahead, the race would need to secure a seal of approval from British Cycling. Mick Bennett, race director at the Tour of Britain, said the federation had been “amenable” to the plan.

Race planners envisage a five-day event centred in one region of the UK – likely to be the South East in the first year – but with options to move around the country for future editions. Riders would be based in a central location, making it easier for fans to watch several days’ racing and meet the pros.

Bennett said creating TV appeal for the event was critical, and after six years of finding what works he believes they have the right formula: “It’s not just about the racing. It’s about putting the Joanna Rowsells and Elinor Barkers up there on a bit of a pedestal, and being a little bit razzmatazz and showbizzy about it.”

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For more information see www.sweetspotgroup.co.uk.