POWYS will host the toughest-ever stage in OVO Energy Women’s Tour history as the race returns to Wales on Friday 14 June.
Coming 24 hours after the race’s first hill-top finish in Warwickshire, the world’s best riders will tackle an arduous stage between Llandrindod Wells – home of the National Cycle Collection – and the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells on day five of the 2019 edition.
Supported by the Welsh Government, the 140-kilometre (87-mile) route through Powys – the first time the county has welcomed the Women’s Tour – features the SKODA Queen of the Mountains climbs of Gorddwr Bank and Pennau along its unrelenting course.
The total elevation gain of 2,206 metres makes stage five of this year’s race the hardest in the event’s history.
“This promises to be a cracker,” said Mick Bennett, OVO Energy Women’s Tour race director. “Powys offers that incredible mix of amazing countryside and challenging terrain, so we’re delighted to be working with the Welsh Government, Powys County Council and Welsh Cycling to bring Britain’s leading women’s race to the county for the first time.
“We have listened to the riders when they say they want the race to be even harder, and I know that they will feel this stage in their legs afterwards! Don’t be fooled by the run-in to the finish at the Royal Welsh Showground – this is by far the toughest stage of the race we’ve ever held.”
Eluned Morgan, Minister for International Relations, said: “It’s great to welcome back Britain’s only international-level stage race for women to Wales for the second year running. The event attracts the best female riders in the world and is an excellent event to raise the profile of women’s sport, cycling and to encourage participation and healthy lifestyles.”
Lord Elis-Thomas, Deputy Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, added: “Once again, the route will be an excellent showcase for Wales’ amazing landscapes, which will also prove to be a challenge for the riders. I’m sure the spectators will come out in force again this year to create an excellent atmosphere for everyone competing in the stage.” Anne Adams-King, Chief Executive Officer at Welsh Cycling said: “It’s great to have Powys play host to the toughest-ever stage of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour.
“Powys is a beautiful area of Wales and we are looking forward to seeing as many spectators line the course as possible on what will no doubt be an entertaining day of racing.”
Stage five will start outside Llandrindod Wells’ famous man-make lake, before taking in an anti-clockwise loop of Powys that heads as far north as Dolfor and as south as Upper Chapel before turning back towards the finish. The peloton will also pass through Rhayader, which features on the route of the Wales360, Britain’s newest off-road epic, which takes place for the first time in July 2019.
British Cycling CEO Julie Harrington said: “Powys’s burgeoning list of ‘must-sees’ will be added to this summer as it welcomes a world-class cycling event in the OVO Energy Women’s Tour for the first time in its history.
“A race that goes from strength to strength each year and leaves the world’s best riders, fans lining the roadside and those watching from home with unforgettable memories from start to finish, we hope the event provides the inspiration for more women to get in the saddle in Powys and beyond – and help us realise our ambition to get one million more women on bikes by 2020.”
Powys County Council Leader, Councillor Rosemarie Harris added: “We are delighted that a world class cycling event is returning to Powys, with a stage start and finish guaranteeing exciting action and a chance to show case our wonderful county to the world.
“The tour attracts millions of viewers and thousands of visitors wherever it goes and will not provide a huge economic boost to business but inspire a new generation to take up this exciting sport.”
Steve Hughson, CEO of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, said: “The Royal Welsh Agricultural Society is delighted that the OVO Energy Women’s Tour will soon be in Mid Wales and making use of our fantastic facilities on the showground in Builth Wells.
“Building on the success of the men’s Tour of Britain in 2016, we are looking forward to welcoming the 2019 Women’s Tour, its teams, riders and supporters to the showground in June. I also thank Powys County Council for their support to bringing this prestigious to Powys, which really supports their vision as an ‘Events County’.”
The 2019 OVO Energy Women’s Tour will take place over six days for the first time in event history. Suffolk will host the Grand Depart of the sixth edition on Monday 10 June before Kent and Oxfordshire welcome the race for the first time for stages two and three. The race continues to form part of the prestigious UCI Women’s WorldTour series, the sixth event of which – the Amstel Gold Race – takes place in the Netherlands on Sunday (21 April).
Stage six of this year’s race will be announced on Thursday (18 April), with further information on competing teams and jersey design reveals coming after Easter.