World class cyclists to return to Oundle

Peloton leaves Althorp House Image copyright PA
Image caption Last year's Friends Life Women's Tour passed by Northamptonshire's Althorp House

Northamptonshire will play host to some of the best women's cyclists in the world for the second successive year.

It has been announced that the Friends Life Women's Tour will return to Oundle on 19 June.

The first ever stage of the Tour, won by Sweden's Emma Johansson, took place in the county in May 2014.

Northamptonshire professional cyclist Hannah Barnes said last year's event was "unbelievable" and the prospect of the race returning was "very exciting".

This year's tour will start in Bury St Edmunds, before heading to Suffolk and Essex.

The race returns to Northamptonshire for Stage Three. Riders will again start in Oundle, before racing through Northamptonshire to the finish in Kettering.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Emma Johansson won the first leg of the 2014 contest, which started in Oundle

Barnes, who rides for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team, said the amount of support at last year's event had been "humbling and really made me proud to be British".

Northamptonshire County Council deputy leader Heather Smith said she was "delighted" to see the Tour return, while Kettering Borough Council's Portfolio Holder for Regeneration Derek Zanger said the race would "undoubtedly help raise the profile of the sport".

The exact details of the Stage Three Northamptonshire route will be announced in the spring.

Friends Life Women's Tour Race Director Mick Bennett said Oundle had given the Tour "a great send-off" in 2014.

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