Warwickshire will welcome back the Women's Tour, the UK's leading international women's cycle race, when the county features in two of the 2023 event's five stages.
Already the second most visited county in race history, it will break new ground once again when it hosts the race's Grand Départ for the first time ever on Wednesday 7 June.
Over 100 of the world's best riders will set out from the world-famous Stratford-upon-Avon and head into the Warwickshire countryside for an undulating day of racing set entirely within the county. Stage one finishes in Royal Leamington Spa, scene of victories for Australians Chloe Hosking and Sarah Roy in the 2017 and 2018 editions of the race respectively.
The Women's Tour's two previous stage finishes in Royal Leamington Spa were watched by more than 20,000 spectators and generated a boost worth over £750,000 to the town's economy.
Warwickshire will feature once again three days later, as the race moves to the north of the county, with Coleshill marking the starting point for stage four on Saturday 10 June. This will be the market town's first appearance in the race.
Set entirely within the Midlands, this stage will see the peloton race towards the city of Derby, which is home to one of the UK's six indoor velodromes.
Warwickshire is intrinsically linked to the Women's Tour, having previously hosted the prestigious race's first hill-top finish (at Burton Dassett in 2019) and time trial (in Atherstone two years ago). The Commonwealth Games road races were also held here last August.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: "I am thrilled once again that Warwickshire has been chosen to host a stage of the Women's Tour.
"Our County has a rich history of hosting high-level cycling events having played host to both the men's and women's stages of the Tour of Britain over the past few years as well as being chosen as the location for the Commonwealth Games Road Races in 2022.
"Last summer was a true demonstration of Warwickshire's reputation as a world-class host for cycling and cyclists and this year's Women's Tour is a wonderful opportunity to build on the legacy of the Commonwealth Games.
"As well as being tremendous free entertainment for the spectators who line the roads of the route, the Tour is of huge economic benefit to the area. From the south of the County hosting the Grand Depart to the north hosting racing on a weekend day - both fantastic firsts for Warwickshire - residents and business across the County will have the chance to celebrate and embrace cycling as the Tour passes through their area, and take advantage of the commercial benefits from increased numbers of customers and tourists."
Mick Bennett, Women's Tour race director, said: "Few places have embraced the Women's Tour as warmly as Warwickshire, so we're thrilled to be working with Warwickshire County Council and partners across the county once again to bring the event back in June.
"I know that there will be great enthusiasm for the Grand Départ, which will provide a day-long showcase for the county. Being able to return to Warwickshire - and more precisely to Coleshill, a brand new host venue for us - for the stage four start will further add to the local excitement!"
This year's Women's Tour has already attracted the support of cottages.com, Brother UK, Accurist and cycleGuard. Organisers hope that today's route announcement will generate additional commercial interest in the race, with event title, jersey, and stage specific sponsorships available. Visit womenstour.co.uk/partners/commercial-opportunities for more information.
Launched in 2014, the award-winning event was the UK's first international women's stage race for women. Heralded as a game-changer in the journey towards gender equality in sport, previous winners of the Women's Tour include Marianne Vos (2014), Lizzie Deignan (2016, 2019) and Elisa Longo Borghini (2022).
Further details of this year's race, including competing teams, leaders' jerseys and stage routes, will be revealed in the coming weeks.