Excitement is building with less than two weeks to go until Walsall hosts the AJ Bell Women’s Tour, the UK’s biggest women’s procycling race and a round of the UCI Women’s World Tour, which features the top events from around the world.

The stage, on Tuesday 5 October, will be one of the most spectator friendly of the 2021 race, with the start in the beautiful setting of Walsall Arboretum located just a few hundred metres from the finish on Lichfield Street in Walsall town centre.  In between riders will take 10 laps of a 9.8-kilometre circuit around Barr Beacon, giving spectators heading onto the route the chance to see the world’s best on multiple occasions.

Alice Towers, of the British based Drops – Le Col s/b TEMPUR team, today visited the route and to meet Mayor of Walsall Cllr Rose Burley, who is supporting the Tour’s visit to the town.

Towers, who turns 19 just three days after the 2021 race, is looking forward to making her AJ Bell Women’s Tour debut, and, as a former member of the Lichfield City Cycling Club, the Walsall stage is set to be on almost home roads.

She said: I’m really excited.  I’ve never done as big a race as this before in the UK so the crowds will be really good.  I’m really proud to ride for the team and grateful to get out and do some amazing races.

 “It’s nice to have a couple of local stages as well, so I can see the course beforehand, and then see friends and family on the road too.  My parents haven’t watched me race all year as I’ve been racing abroad and it’s been difficult to get out and see races so it’s going to be nice to have my mum and dad at the start line and them to see me race.”

Leader of Walsall Council, Cllr Mike Bird said: “Hosting an event of this importance in the professional sporting calendar is a great opportunity for Walsall. The community is coming together to ensure visitors to the race get a warm welcome and we wish the teams the best of luck on what looks to be an exciting day.”

Community activities

To accompany the race action, community groups are joining cycling enthusiasts, students and local makers to create a festival of sport and culture, a day of entertainment and activities for all the family at a number of locations in and around Walsall Town Centre. There will be a fan zone in the Arboretum, Walsall makers will be displaying their wares in the Market and there’s entertainment in Gallery Square.

Among the other activities on offer are have-a-go bikes, face painting, live music and dance, arts & crafts, a smoothie bike, roaming costume characters including the Walsall Hippo, stilt-walkers and a cycling poet.

Details of the activities and the race can be found on the Council web site: go.walsall.gov.uk/raceday

About stage two

The 103-kilometre (63.6-mile) Walsall stage will get underway from the Arboretum at 11:30 and features 10 circuits of a lap around Barr Beacon.

Three ascents of the climb (Laps 5-7-9) will count towards the ŠKODA Queen of the Mountains competition for the best climber in the race, while riders will also battle for time bonuses on three laps (Laps 4-6-8) at the intermediate Eisberg sprint on Barr Common Lane.