A TOWN in Oxfordshire is to kick-off the first stage of a prestigious women’s cycling race.

Bicester will host the start of the 2020 Women’s Tour - Britain’s longest running professional women’s race - this summer which will see around 100 cyclists weave their way through towns, villages and rural areas in the county.

This is the second year that Oxfordshire will host the event as part of a three-year commitment which began in 2019 with organisers SweetSpot and the district councils, Oxford City and the County Council.

ALSO READ: Riders forced out of OVO cycling race after crash near Didcot

Between 2017 and 2019 the race was sponsored by OVO Energy but as the sponsorship ended in October 2019, the event is currently without a title sponsor.

Today, Oxfordshire pro-cyclist, Katie Scott, joined community cycling groups and local children from Bicester’s Longfields Primary School and The Cooper School at the announcement in Garth Park.

The 18-year-old is a CAMS–Tifosi team rider, from Faringdon and is one of the women taking part in the gruelling six-stage tour which starts on June 8.

She has already represented Great Britain at the World and European Cyclo-Cross Championships.

Councillor Barry Wood, leader of Cherwell District Council, said: “Bicester is the ideal start for this year’s Women’s Tour and I have no doubt the riders will receive a great send off.

"As a Healthy New Town, cycling already plays an important role, with residents encouraged onto two wheels through free bike servicing schemes and involvement in community cycling clubs.

PICTURES: OVO Energy cycling tour races through Oxfordshire

"We know it can help towards both physical and mental wellbeing and by bringing some of the world’s top riders to Bicester, we hope to inspire even more people to get into cycling.”

Different routes are planned each year to showcase the county’s diversity to a national and international audience and this year’s will be announced in the coming weeks.

Families are expected to line roads to cheer on competitors, turning the event into an exciting community spectacle.

Spectators will be encouraged to use healthy and environmentally-friendly transport to reach vantage points to watch the race.

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We’re delighted to welcome the Women’s Tour back to Oxfordshire, inspiring more people to get their bikes out of the shed.

“The benefits of cycling for personal health cannot be over stated, along with reducing congestion on our roads. Oxfordshire is the perfect backdrop for this race and we look forward to showing off the county at its best.”

ALSO READ: OVO Energy women's cycle tour 2019 to start stage three in Henley

Last year six riders were forced out of the tour after a collision reportedly caused by a ‘pothole’ on a road near Didcot.

Overall leader and former world champion, Marianne Vos, crashed out and needed treatment after sustaining cuts on her face. Sweetspot denied that a ‘pothole’ was to blame for the crash.