The Aviva Women’s tour set off yesterday with its first 110 kilometre stage under beautifully sunny skies, from Stowmarket to Aldeburgh in Suffolk.
Thousands turned out to watch the Aviva Women’s Tour of Britain, spectators lining the streets in each town the peloton passed, in areas four or five deep. Each of the local schools along the route were assigned a team for the day, and given flags and t-shirts in team colours to cheer on and support their riders as they passed. As has become one of the defining characteristics of the Aviva Women’s Tour, the communities which hold the stages become invested in the race, far more than similar events across the UK. There are no figures as of yet, but from a spectators perspective, the turnout was huge, and the support unrivalled by any other Women’s event in the UK.
The media coverage of the Aviva Women’s Tour is also fantastic from a supporter –and of course a sponsors- point of view; if you missed the ITV highlights last night you can watch on catch up here [Update: the content has unfortunately been removed]. You can also watch ITV’s two part special following the Matrix team in the run up to the Aviva Women’s Tour here.
Matrix Pro Cycling had a fantastic ride yesterday, with team rider Elinor Barker jumping into the feature breakaway of 6 riders, a break that grew to nearly three minutes thanks to a stop at a level crossing, before eventually being caught with just 400 meters to go. Yellow Jersey Team Member Simon Lythgoe was lucky enough to have been in the Matrix Support car at the time the peloton was stopped, and luckily for us, had the foresight to record the drama as it happened.
A view few of us get to see of a professional race; in the mix among cyclist and support crew, rushing to swap bikes and feed their riders, reacting to unexpected changes and doing everything in their power to get their riders over the line as quickly as possible.
Invitations to attend races in this capacity serve as another reminder of how lucky we are to sponsor a professional race team, competing on an international level.
The first stage of the Aviva Women’s Tour was won by Lizzie Armistead for Boels-Dolmans with a bunch sprint to the line; unfortunately, the end of the race was overshadowed her dramatic crash. Armistead’s team have confirmed that her injuries were just cuts and bruises, although she won’t be taking part in the next stage of the tour, and the incident has been put down to an unfortunate accident.
Elinor Barker ultimately finished the stage in 31st place, with Matrix Team Leader Laura Trott coming in 18th.
“It was a great team effort today, and everyone should be very proud of themselves. It’s amazing to think of the progress the team has made in the last 12 months, and we’re all excited at the coming stages,” team Leader Laura Trott said at the end of the stage.
“Elinor rode a very strong race, but it’s hard to really celebrate a big ride after the crash at the finish. Everyone is a very relieved to hear the news that Lizzie is ok after her crash and we’re really keep to try to build of the start we’ve made today.”
“Tomorrow is a long day, so is Friday. We’ll take things day by day and we’ll try to remain one of the animators of this race.”
You can follow the tour live, and view the full results on the womenstour.co.uk