Aviva Women's Tour 2016
Britain's premier women's road race in Derbyshire
The Aviva Women's Tour is came to Derbyshire on June 17 and 18. (Picture courtesy of SweetSpot)
The Aviva Women's Tour - Britain's premier female international road race - came to Derbyshire for two stages on June 17 and 18.
The 2016 Aviva Women's Tour was the third staging of the event and, for the first time, part of the UCI's new Women's WorldTour.
The 616km-long race attracted some of the best riders in the world, with multiple Olympic, World and European medallist Marianne Vos and British London 2012 Olympics road race silver medallist Lizzie Armistead among the many stars on show.
You can look over some of the highlights of the Derbyshire stages below, plus review some of the highlights in the build up to the two big days.
Aviva Women's Tour Stage Three pictures
Stage Three rolls out of Ashbourne.
Relive Stage Three of the Aviva Women's Tour on June 17 2016 with pictures taken at the start in Ashbourne, Bank Road in Matlock and at the finish in Chesterfield.
The 109-km long 'Queen' stage was eventually won by British rider and world champion Lizzie Armistead, who won a sprint finish in Chesterfield market place contested between four riders.
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Aviva Women's Tour Stage Three through Derbyshire, June 17 2016
Derbyshire Sport's review of the race from Ashbourne to Chesterfield, won by Britain's Lizzie Armistead.
Boels Dolmans' Nikki Harris on Stage Three of the Aviva Women's Tour
The Derbyshire rider tells of her enjoyment in racing on 'home' roads and the prospect of riding through her home village of Draycott during Stage Four.
Aviva Women's Tour picture competition
View pictures of women and girls from Derbyshire who have sent in their images inspired by the Aviva Women's Tour. Samways Cycles will provide prizes for those judged the best. Post on Derbyshire Sport or Cycle Derbyshire Facebook or Twitter pages to have a go! A link for full details is below.
Full competition details
Please click for full competition details.
Right past their front door, school or business
Racers line up ready to race. (Picture courtesy of SweetSpot)
Many people saw the see the race speed right past their front door, school or business, while the riders took in some of the most beautiful scenery across the Peak District and Derbyshire.
The dates of the two stages dovetailed neatly with the internationally-renowned, three-day festival of vintage cycling Eroica Britannia, which took place in Bakewell over the same weekend.
It followed on from last year's Aviva Tour of Britain that saw some of the world's best male riders race through Derbyshire en route from Stoke to Nottingham.
Click here to view to Aviva Women's Tour promo video.
The women climbed 7,600m during this year's Aviva Women's Tour. (Picture courtesy of SweetSpot)
Aviva Women's Tour: Stage Three route pics
A team of women from Derbyshire Sport and its partners completed the 109km route from Ashbourne to Chesterfield on Friday May 13.
Coffee, cake and great scenery - Aviva Women's Tour Stage Three 'reccie'
When it was suggested doing a 'reccie' of Stage Three of the Aviva Women's Tour, a number of women from organisations involved in Derbyshire cycling were quick to volunteer. Hayley Lever, Director of Derbyshire Sport, explains that the groups nerves quickly disappeared as an enjoyable day out in great company and beautiful scenery unfolded.
(Scroll up for more pictures).
The women started in Ashbourne after a welcome cup of coffee.
Overcoming nerves by taking to the trails
A warm welcome awaited us at Bramhall's Deli, on the pretty Ashbourne market place where the Women's Tour Stage 3 will start. There were some nervous conversations as the group of five women met for the first time, and tried to appear relaxed.
What was primarily running through our heads was 'how fast is everyone else?'… 'This is only the fourth time out on my bike this year!', 'How am I going to get up the first hill out of Ashbourne?' … 'what about all the morning traffic?'
A cup of coffee and a croissant later, and the suggestion was put forward, that since we weren't elite riders with the luxury of a rolling road closure, we could take the more sociable and traffic free Tissington Trail as our route out of town. The group visibly relaxed.
The Tissington Trail provided a safe and relaxing route out of Ashbourne.
Chance for a chat
This journey was an opportunity to try out Stage 3, to enjoy the sights, sounds and cafes that Derbyshire has to offer, and a personal challenge too. I was quick to remind people that it shouldn't be something to endure, but to enjoy… although we all knew that a fair bit of effort would be required.
The Tissington Trail was a great start to the day, as it allowed the group to chat and get to know each other a bit. There was a pretty stiff head wind, which stayed with us all day really, but we seemed to get used to and quickly adapted, chatting a little louder to make sure we didn't miss out on the social opportunity.
A brew stop at the Peak District National Park Authority's Parsley Hay Cycle Hire was welcome, as it was really quite chilly at this point. It was good to see a group of women hiring bikes and heading out to enjoy the trail for the first time.
Stopping off for lunch in Monyash.
Bluebell woods and pretty river crossings
We headed off the trail as we approached Earl Sterndale, and the sun started to warm our fingers. The section through to Harpur Hill was truly stunning.
On this occasion, time was too short to take in Buxton Town Centre, but this promises to be a great section on race day, with a sprint through the town, and fantastic crowds predicted.
Heading out of Buxton towards Chelmorton and Monyash, the lanes are quiet and beautiful. We enjoyed lunch on the village green in Monyash, before heading to Youlgreave where a support car collected one of our group, and filled up our water bottles ready for the climb up to Winster and Wensley.
Bluebell woods and pretty river crossings are typical of this area, as well as gorgeous little Peak District villages.
Cheers! Bank Road is conquered.
Conquering Bank Road
We join the A6 in Darley Dale, taking on an energy gel or too, as the nerves start to kick in and Bank Road hill climb in Matlock awaits. We briefly enjoy the pretty market town sights before taking a deep breath and starting the biggest climb of the day.
Wow! My gears were slipping under the strain of the hill. Lungs worked to full capacity as we dug deep and powered our way up to the top.
Here we met Derbyshire Sport's Matt, who is waiting with a smile to take photos and interview us about our day so far. How do you feel he asks? 'Sick' is my first reply. Once I get my breath back, though, and turn to enjoy a stunning view across the Peak District, the pain subsides.
Chatsworth House in the background for this selfie.
A selfie stop at Chatsworth
Another colleague, Janice, joins us at this point, as we speed along Beeley Moor and down to the Chatsworth Estate.]
I'm enjoying myself again, knowing the hardest work of the day is over. Chatsworth is stunning as always, and we stop for a quick selfie!
We wind our way along the beautiful lanes to Baslow, then start the final climb of the day, past the Robin Hood pub and up to Chesterfield. It's quite tempting to stop and enjoy a pint and a packet of crisps at this point, with the Friday afternoon visitors and early work finishers.
Rounding off a fantastic day
Getting to the finish brought a real sense of achievement.
The views are stunning once more, and the descent into the town is welcome. Our finish isn't quite as spectacular as the elite riders will enjoy. As busy mums, we rush off to collect cars and pick up children, with hurried goodbyes, buzzing with the endorphins of a fantastic day.
The elite riders will enjoy great crowds through the town.. they may not enjoy the final cobbles quite as much as the warm Chesterfield welcome that will await, as their undoubtedly challenging day in Derbyshire and the Peak District comes to an end.
Find out more
Stage Three 'reccie' video
Riding Stage Three of the 2016 Aviva Women's Tour route through Derbyshire
A group of recreational cyclists ride from Ashbourne to Chesterfield - in a bid to inspire other women and girls to get on their bikes ahead of the race on June 17.
Music credit: Blue Ska by Kevin MacLeod, Incompetech
#This Girl Can Cycle - Women unified in quest to ride Stage Three of the Aviva Women’s Tour
Kate Samways, of Derby Cycle specialists Samways Cycles Ltd, travelled to Ashbourne to wave off the riders who tackled the Stage Three of the Aviva Women's Tour 'reccie' - and found that they were a group determined to prove that cycling in Derbyshire is for all.
The women line up before their ride.
The Women's Tour - growing in prominence
The Women's Tour is a women's cycling race is a staged race through Britain. In 2014, it was granted the highest possible ranking for a stage race, making it one of the world's top cycling races for women. This race attracts world class, elite women cyclists and their teams.
Previous stage winners, have included Emma Johansson and the phenomenal World and Olympic Champion, Marianne Vos. Last year's race was won by Lisa Brennauer and due to its huge success the race has a place on the UCI Women's World Calendar for 2016.
Racing through a spectacular Derbyshire route
On June 17, 2016, Derbyshire hosts Stage Three entirely - and it will provide a very challenging stage for the elite women cyclists.
It offers, 2,000 meters of climbing and over 112 kilo meters of racing through a spectacular Derbyshire route, which crosses the Derbyshire Dales and the Peak District National Park.
We all understand, that the elite women riders taking part, are professional athletes. They will train and work extremely hard to compete at the highest level. So, the question was asked: "What would it be like for women to ride Stage Three, who generally cycle to commute, to socialise and to become fitter?"
Sharing similar concerns
Hayley Lever, Director of Derbyshire Sport, decided to find out. She planned an event, which would highlight the goals and concerns of women taking part in a ride that covered the proposed Derbyshire route.
"In organising this event, it soon become very clear, that women have similar concerns and anxieties about riding a route, designed for elite women cyclists. As a runner, this is only the fourth time I have ridden my bike this year," declared Hayley.
"I am looking forward to this challenge, to see what I can personally achieve. I know with the great group of women we have here today, we will all achieve personal goals and enjoy this experience.
"We will take it at our own pace, it is a day to be enjoyed not endured. We will have lots of stops, at some of the fantastic cafes and tea room along the route, it will be fun!"
On the morning of the ride, I met with the five women who were to begin the route out of Ashbourne.
Social rides brings 'bring support and encouragement'
All were excited and a little apprehensive about the challenge that lay ahead that day. "How will we cope with the hills?" and "Will I be the slowest, holding everyone back?" were the questions asked. They were totally valid questions, as Derbyshire is renowned for unforgiving hills, and this stage of the Women's Tour is regarded as particularly demanding.
The four women that were joining Hayley for the beginning of this ride, all feel passionately about encouraging more women to cycle.
Margaret Blount, 54, has recently taken up cycling, after many years of supporting her family in the sport. "Women always appear to be worried about cycling in a group and cycling on a busy road. Many women are lacking in confidence and self-belief.
"Having cycled with women on many social ride outs, the support and encouragement from them is wonderful. You always achieve more when riding in a group, who are inclusive and enjoy each other's successes and cycling achievements."
'A great way to become healthier and meet new people'
Victoria Gray, 44, took up cycling four or five years ago, in her plan to get fit and she quickly caught the cycling bug.
She has completed coast to coast rides and just returned from a holiday riding the Sierra Nevada, Spain.
"I mainly ride with women, as it is always so sociable and when cycling with my friends, there is usually cafe stop," she said. "It is a great way to become healthier, meet new people and cycling offers a sense of freedom."
'A new challenge I'm looking forward to'
Jane Hartog, has not cycled for many years, having dedicated her time to her growing family
She has had a successful past, competing in triathlons and mountain bike events.
"Getting on a road bike is new for me, I have started road cycling for the social and fitness side that cycling gives you," said Jane. "I have no idea how long today will take us, but I am looking forward to the challenge."
'Cycling is for everyone'
As a regular commuter to work, enjoying cycling holidays, entering cycling sportives and organising funds raising events for the Cycle Hire Centre at Parsley Hay, Sarah Fowler really enjoys her cycling.
She said: "Cycling is for everyone and I hope that today will encourage women in particular, to go cycling more often and see how enjoyable cycling is."
Women are motivated by other women
As croissants, coffees and breakfasts were consumed by all, it was clear that women are motivated by other women and confidence is the key to achieving anything you set your mind to.
Cycling up hills and on main roads is about having the knowledge to cycle confidently and having the belief that you will achieve. A mental adjustment to hills is a key factor, whilst enticing with coffee and cakes is a must.
As the women departed from Ashbourne Market Place, and headed up the busy hill towards Buxton, all were smiling.
It didn't matter how long the ride took, or how much of the ride they completed. It was about so much more. It was about illustrating that cycling is for all in Derbyshire and that if women and girl's believe that #This Girl Can, they will achieve their goals.
Are you inspired?
Quiet roads and scenery to inspire - Aviva Women's Tour Stage Four 'reccie'
As Open Space and Facilities Development Manager for South Derbyshire District Council, Zoe Sewter knows the southern tip of the county very well and says it is a great place to cycle, not just for the elite riders as they stream through in the Aviva Women's Tour on June 18, but for women and girls of all ages.
Zoe out on the roads of South Derbyshire.
Plenty of quiet roads and not much traffic
"When I went out with friend Anna Leather to ride part of the route through South Derbyshire, I found it to be very enjoyable, not least because a lot of the roads in that area are pretty quiet.
"People can be put off if there's a lot of traffic, but you can pick routes through that area, particularly in the south of the district, where you won't see car after car, which makes it much easier to build your confidence if you're new to cycling on the road.
"We bumped into a family of cyclists when we were out on our ride and they were all really excited about the Aviva Women's Tour coming here. I think that's the same for a lot of people – there seems to be a good vibe surrounding the event.
"We stopped at a newsagent on our route and they were talking about the race too – and hopefully that will continue all the way up to race day.
Calke Abbey is one of several eye-catching destinations.
Reward yourself with a cafe stop
"There are quite a few good cycling clubs in the area that cater for all ages and abilities and there are some nice places to go where you can reward yourself for your effort with a cup of tea and slice of cake, such as Beehive café in Rosliston, Rosliston Forestry Centre and Calke Abbey. There's plenty of pubs in the area too, if you want something a bit more substantial!
"In terms of route choices, there are some quite flat areas which means you can make it not too taxing, but for those who like a challenge, there are also some decent climbs too.
"And although there is not much in the way of Sustrans (National Cycle Network) routes other than that from Melbourne into Derby, there's a short section from Swadlincote which makes it really easy to get out on the trails in the National Forest away from the roads.
The reccie selfie: Anna and Zoe.
The Tour ‘gives people something to take inspiration from’
"I think it's really important to have an event like this because it raises the profile of women in sport and gives people something to aspire to and take inspiration from.
"If we can really capitalise on holding events like this and the interest it generates with follow-up activities, then hopefully it will get a lot more people cycling.
"You only have to look at what having the Tour de France and now the Tour de Yorkshire has done for cycling in that county to see how things can really change. There are a lot more cycling-related events regularly going on and motorists also seem to be a lot more patient and respectful of cyclists. Hopefully we can have that here.
The poppies in full bloom.
Cycling is something all the family can enjoy
"Getting more women and girls cycling would be particularly great to see because it can really help build your confidence. As well as the clubs, there are also schemes like "Breeze" which is quite specific to women, to family-orientated initiatives like Bikeability, Early Riders through to Senior Cycling.
"The great thing about cycling is that it is something that all the family can enjoy together and you don't need to be a professional rider to do it.
"You can grab your bike out of the shed and do as little or as much as you want. You can cycle to work or to the shops, or to see friends – it can become part of your daily or weekly routine."