For the second year Oxfordshire geared up to welcome the AJ Bell Women’s Tour with crowds cheering on the cyclists across the county.

The race is Britain’s longest-running professional women’s cycle race and part of the prestigious UCI Women’s World Tour series.

This year the race started in Bicester and came into the city late morning from Islip.

It went through New Marston, Marston and St Clement’s to The Plain, then all the way up the Cowley Road before heading out of the city towards Garsington.

The race then went south to Abingdon and looped back to the west of the city before ending the race in Banbury.

Bicester Advertiser: AJ Bell Women’s Tour. Picture: Anthony Morris

About 100 of the world's elite cyclists weaved their way through Oxfordshire villages and Oxford competing in the race and spectators and school children cheered them on.

Former world champion Marta Bastianelli claimed her first-ever AJ Bell Women’s Tour stage victory following a perfectly-timed sprint.

Speaking after the finish Bastianelli said: “It’s a very nice win for me. There are lots of people, lots of babies, for me it is good, because I think of my daughter.

“There was a crash with 1km to go, and luckily I did not crash but I am sorry for those that did. I started the sprint in third position, and for me it was the maximum because my coach has seen me win sprints from there.

“The sprint was not easy because it is a little bit tougher and uphill, and I think it is not for the sprinters, but for me it is a good race and a good day.”

Mick Bennett Race director thoroughly enjoyed the day and thanked Oxfordshire and Cherwell for their safe highways for the cyclists and public.

He said: "It was a fabulous day. I always set the standards of the day by the riders reaction to it and they just love racing on these roads."

He added: "The schools came out in force and they were waving and holding up posters that they had made. It inspires me, you get almost emotional when you come through a village that is lined with school children."

Councillor Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “The Women’s Tour has been a wonderful way to showcase our county. I hope the race has inspired even more people to exercise and keep fit. Hosting the prestigious event has been a great collaborative effort between the county council and our colleagues at Oxford City Council and the districts. I’m extremely grateful to residents, businesses, and local sponsors; many decorating sections of the route with flags and banners, and cheering on the competitors.”

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