Suffolk was host to yet another exciting, successful stage of The Women’s Tour yesterday (6 June) despite the drizzly conditions.
Crowds of people lined the streets of Suffolk as stage one of Britain’s most prestigious women’s cycling race weaved its way across the county.
The Women’s Tour 2022 set off from Colchester’s Northern Gateway Sports Park and crossed the border into suffolk – travelling through Brantham, Hadleigh, Needham Market and Stowmarket on its way to finishing in Bury St Edmunds.
Frenchwoman Clara Copponi claimed the first victory of her road racing career as she sprinted to win the opening stage of the Women’s Tour in Bury St Edmunds yesterday (6 June).
The FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope rider pipped Italian duo Sofia Bertizzolo (UAE Team ADQ) and Elena Cecchini (Team SD Worx) to the line in a reduced bunch sprint after a final-kilometre crash removed pre-stage favourite Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) from contention.
Copponi, a reigning world champion on the track, claimed the first yellow leader’s jersey of this year’s race as a result of her victory. Having finished third overall in last year’s Women’s Tour, she also leads the Breast Cancer Now points classification going into stage two.
“Today I feel good, confident. I am excited for the rest of the week. I love England!” said Copponi afterwards, saying to defending her lead in stage two she would need to “Win the sprint, again, I will do my best and we will see day by day
“I did my best and I’m so happy. I’m so excited, it’s a great day, it’s my first victory.”
Finishing fourth was Canyon//SRAM Racing rider Alice Barnes, who takes the honour of Best British Rider, an award she won overall in 2021, after the opening day.
“My teammates tried to help me and we had aimed to be patient,” said Barnes, “But I was blocked to get to them, so I made the choice to go alone in the final. I was able to find my way close to the front before the roundabout but I have to admit we’d already been slipping a lot all day on the wet roads and that didn’t give me a lot of confidence. The riders ahead of me took the left-hand corner too hot and crashed. I was able to find my way through and did my best in the final 100m.”
Christine Majerus (Team SDWorx) leads the ŠKODA Queen of the Mountains category having won both the contests in Suffolk at Brantham and Bildeston, while British team Le Col – Wahoo take the Pillar Sprints jersey with Maike van der Duin, who won both intermediate contests during the stage.
Mick Bennett, Women’s Tour race director said:
“It was great to be able to return to Bury St Edmunds and what a welcome the race received! Despite the less than ideal weather, the enthusiasm of everybody at the finish, not to mention those out along the stage route, was truly joyous. A big thank you to everybody who made it happen!”
The event was brought to Suffolk by a partnership between Suffolk County Council, West Suffolk Council, Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils and Suffolk Growth, with support from Abbeycroft Leisure and Vertas.
UCI Women’s World Teams: Canyon//SRAM Racing (Germany), EF Education – TIBCO – SVB (USA, FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope (France), Human Powered Health (USA), Liv Racing Xstra (Netherlands), Movistar Team (Spain), Team BikeExchange – Jayco (Australia), Team DSM (Germany), Team Jumbo – Visma (Netherlands). Team SD Worx (Netherlands), Trek-Segafredo (USA), UAE Team ADQ (UAE), Uno-X Pro Cycling Team (Norway)
UCI Women’s Continental Teams: CAMS – Basso (Great Britain), CERATIZIT – WNT Pro Cycling (Germany), Le Col – Wahoo (Great Britain), Team Coop – Hitec Products (Norway)
Photos credit – Alex Whitehead – SWPix.