World class cyclists will race past Warwick and Kenilworth castles in a new and “challenging” section for the five-day Aviva Women’s Tour.
Warwickshire will provide the setting for the second stage of the world class cycling event with a day of racing to cover the entire length of the county on June 16.
The stage will see the likes of world champion, Lizzie Armitstead and reigning Aviva Tour champion, Lisa Brennauer ride 140km from Atherstone to Stratford past a host of historic landmarks and towns.
The route will take 96 riders through Kenilworth and Warwick town centres and pass by both town’s castles. It will also cover a section of the Fosse Way.
Riders will continue to Compton Verney and Upton House before finishing in Stratford where celebrations will tie in with events to mark 400 years since the death of Williams Shakespeare.
During the week Kenilworth will also host one of the two ‘Chain Reaction Cycle Sprints’ as part of a host of community events.
Details of how riders will get between the towns are yet to be finalised.
The county council and the University of Warwick will jointly host the event with hopes of creating activities and sporting events during the tour to welcome athletes and celebrate women in sport.
Speaking at the university, Guy Elliott, race controller said: “We are bringing cycling to the Fosse Way, a road that has existed for centuries and such fantastic history is one of the best things about Warwickshire.
“We are also going past Kenilworth Castle and Warwick Castle.
“The Warwickshire stage will be a deceptively tough leg with a great deal of climbing.
“The course we have created with such a hilly parcours will make for excellent racing, while at the same time showcasing many beautiful and historic locations.
“This is the best women’s race in the world and we want to encourage as many spectators to come out and support us.”
Two designated Queen of the Mountains climbs will take place on the route, which includes over 1,700 metres of ascent.
The Warwickshire stage will be a deceptively tough leg with a great deal of climbingGuy Elliott
The first of those at Burton Dassett Hills Country Park while the second comes after the village of Ilmington on the edge of the Cotswolds.
Ciara Horne, Great Britain Team Pursuit rider and 2014 European Champion has spoken of her delight that the race will come to the county - despite disappointment that she cannot compete.
“I’m delighted to hear that the Aviva Women’s Tour will be passing through my home town of Kenilworth,” she said.
“I’m gutted I won’t be able to compete on my home roads but it’s too close to the Rio Olympic Games and I need to put all my efforts into trying to make the team pursuit squad on the track. However, I will watch it on television with great interest and be following all of the Twitter updates.”
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, leader of Warwickshire County Council, said it was a “wonderful opportunity” to showcase some of the area’s best natural and historical assets - with calls for as many schools and residents to help “put Warwickshire on the international sporting map”.
Taking place over five days, the 2016 edition of the race will be a part of the new UCI Women’s World Tour calendar, currently one of just four multi-day stage races.
Subsequent stages will take the race to Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire, before the final day of racing in Northamptonshire on Sunday 19 June.