CHERWELL residents will see the beginning and end of an elite women’s cycling race this autumn.

The opening stage of the UCI Women’s World Tour series will begin in Bicester with the riders then racing across Oxfordshire to the finish line in Banbury.

The event was due to take place between June 7 and June 12, but was pushed back to October 4.

This is the second year that Oxfordshire will host the Women’s Tour and the county council and district and city councils are working in partnership with race organisers SweetSpot to deliver the event as part of a three-year commitment, which began in 2019.

Different routes are planned each year to showcase the county’s diversity to a national and international audience.

Councillor Barry Wood, leader of Cherwell District Council, said: “Having the start and finish of the first leg of the Women’s Tour in Cherwell is a real honour. It’s the perfect opportunity to showcase what our wonderful district has to offer and we look forward to welcoming the riders, teams and fans for the race this autumn.”

Cycling fans are expected to visit Oxfordshire to watch the event, generating additional business for restaurants, bars, hotels and shops along the route.

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

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Over the last year, we have seen more and more residents cycling. We hope by welcoming back the race, even more people will take to two-wheels, the healthy transport option.”

About 100 professional riders will weave their way through towns, villages and rural areas and highlights of the race will also be broadcasted on ITV4.

Ila Pearson, from Banbury Star Cyclists’ Club, said: “It’s so exciting to have a world class cycling event coming to Banbury. Our club is thriving, with women, men and youngsters all well represented. I have no doubt that the Women’s Tour will inspire others back onto their bikes.”

Oxfordshire residents have called for sweeps of the roads where the race will take place in the past to check for potholes, after a rider crashed out in 2019, due to a poor road surface.

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