Kasia Niewiadoma (left) and Lizzie Deignan (centre) (SWpix)

Exciting times for cycling fans as the thrilling Women’s Tour will be coming to Warwickshire in just over a week’s time. 

Defending champion Lizzie Deignan, recently-crowned world time trial champion Ellen van Dijk, former winner Kasia Niewiadoma, and Tokyo 2020 medallists Marlen Reusser and Lisa Klein are among the first riders announced for this year’s AJ Bell Women’s Tour.

After a hiatus of over 840 days, the UK’s most prestigious international women’s race will return with an Oxfordshire Grand Départ on Monday 4 October, once again accompanied by the world’s best riders.

History will be made when Atherstone hosts the first individual time trial in race history on stage three (Wednesday 6 October). Having welcomed three stage starts in Women’s Tour history, this will also mark the first time the North Warwickshire town will host a finish. The out-and-back route has been carefully designed to measure 16 kilometres / 10 miles, a nod to Britain’s rich history of time trialling over that distance. The anti-clockwise loop passes through Bentley, Birchley Heath, Mancetter before finishing in the heart of Atherstone.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “It will be so exciting for fans of cycling in Warwickshire to have such a unique opportunity to see cyclists of such a high calibre competing in the county when Atherstone hosts the Women’s Tour’s first ever time trial in just over a week. 

“Warwickshire has a rich history in hosting high-level cycling events having previously played host to legs of both the men's and women's Tour of Britain over the last few years and has also been selected as the location for the Commonwealth Games Road Race in 2022 demonstrating that the county is a world-class location for cycling and cyclists

“A we continue to look at cautiously and safely open up our economy more broadly and welcome more visitors to the county, as well as being fantastic entertainment for spectators, this event will be of huge economic benefit to the area. It’s an opportunity for local businesses in Atherstone to celebrate and embrace cycling as the time trial comes past their front door, as well as for others to maximise on business opportunities from increased customers and visitors to Warwickshire.”

Trek – Segafredo star Deignan became the AJ Bell Women’s Tour’s first two-time champion when she triumphed in June 2019’s race, the most recent edition of the event to take place owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. She will be joined on the start line by her team-mate van Dijk, who is set to wear the famous world champion’s rainbow jersey for the first time in the race’s first-ever individual time trial stage in Atherstone, Warwickshire, on Wednesday 6 October.

Polish rider Niewiadoma was a popular winner of the race in 2017 and finished runner-up behind Deignan two years ago. She will line up for Canyon SRAM Racing alongside Lisa Klein, who was part of the German quartet who won gold and set a new world record in the team pursuit – ahead of Great Britain – at this summer’s Olympic Games. Klein, who will compete in her fifth edition of the race, also took gold in the world championships mixed relay time trial in Bruges, Belgium, on Wednesday.

Another contender for victory in Atherstone is Reusser, silver medallist in the time trial at both this year’s Olympics and world championships. The Swiss champion will make her debut in the AJ Bell Women’s Tour with the Alé BTC Ljubljana team, whose line-up will also see former world and European road race champion Marta Bastianelli return to the event. 

Also set to compete are Lotte Kopecky (Liv Racing), the reigning Belgian road and time trial champion, and Movistar Team’s Danish rider Emma Norsgaard, who took a memorable stage victory in this year’s Giro d’Italia Femminile. Both riders are expected to be in contention for victories in the race’s sprint stages.

Having dominated the ŠKODA V-Women’s Tour, the virtual edition of the race held last year, the American TIBCO – Silicon Valley Bank squad will return with a strong team featuring reigning US road race champion Lauren Stephens and recent Ladies Tour of Norway stage winner Kristen Faulkner.

Further rider announcements will be made over the next week, building up to the race, which gets underway in Oxfordshire with a stage from Bicester to Banbury on Monday 4 October.

The AJ Bell Women’s Tour is sponsored by AJ Bell, one of the UK’s leading online investment platforms, helping people invest for the long term via ISAs, pensions and general investment accounts.  It has a rich history of supporting elite level sport including badminton, cricket, rugby, squash and triathlon, and recently sponsored the men’s AJ Bell Tour of Britain in September, won by Wout van Aert.

More information about the Women’s Tour can be found online: https://www.womenstour.co.uk/

Find out more about the Teams that will be taking part: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/news/article/2289/world-s-best-cycling-teams-announced-for-the-women-s-tour-coming-to-warwickshire-in-october-2021

Find out more about the route of the Atherstone Time Trial here: https://www.womenstour.co.uk/stages/stage-3/

Find out more about being a spectator at the Atherstone Time Trial: https://www.northwarks.gov.uk/info/20235/cycle_races/1316/cycle_races/2

Warwickshire High Sheriff, Min Willoughby de Broke, will be embarking on a gruelling 200+ cycle challenge across the length and breadth of Warwickshire just before the women’s Tour, find out more about that here: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/news/article/2421/the-high-sheriff-s-big-bike-ride-showcasing-the-best-of-warwickshire

Published: 24th September 2021