For the third time in race history, Suffolk will host the Grand Départ of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour.

After a year’s absence from the event, the East Anglian county will welcome the world’s best riders for a largely flat 130-kilometre leg between Framlingham and Southwold.

The previous stage victors in Suffolk are Marianne Vos and Lizzie Deignan, who won in Bury St Edmunds (2014) and Aldeburgh (2015) respectively. Southwold hosted the Grand Départ in 2016, with Luxembourg national champion Christine Majerus claiming that day’s win in Norwich. The stage’s SKODA Queen of the Mountains climb is located in Christchurch Park, which previously welcomed the OVO Energy Tour of Britain in 2011.


The opening stage of the 2018 OVO Energy Women’s Tour will start in the ancient market town of Framlingham. Nestled in the Suffolk countryside, Framlingham is well known for its late 12th Century castle – made famous by Framlingham-raised musician Ed Sheeran. The castle is surrounded by parkland and is steeped in history; Mary Tudor was proclaimed Queen of England from behind the castle walls.

Surrounding the castle is the Mere, a wildlife haven popular with walkers and dog walkers. Owned by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, the Mere is home to almost 300 species of plants and 80 species of birds.

The market town, mentioned in the Domesday Book, has a number of interesting independent shops and also hosts a traditional market twice each week. There is also a broad selection of pubs and restaurants to choose from.


Stage One will finish in the beautiful seaside town of Southwold. Home to a popular sandy beach and Instagram-worthy beach huts, Southwold offers a wonderful environment for holidays, weekends away and days out, as well as a thriving market town atmosphere.

Southwold is the perfect destination for a break away at any time of the year. The Blue Flag beach is popular in all seasons – take a stroll along the promenade past the historical lighthouse and pier, enjoy an ice cream and fun afternoon at the Under the Pier Show, followed by a round of crazy golf at the next door Boating Lake and Tearoom.

Popular with food and drink lovers, Southwold is home to one of the UK’s favourite brewers, Adnams and, with their own shop and café, plus a number of pubs and restaurants too, there are plenty of places you can enjoy a relaxing pint. Southwold has a variety of accommodation, from boutique hotels to award-winning B&Bs, plus a broad selection of independent shops.