Around 70,000 people are expected to line the streets of Northamptonshire in June as the Aviva Women’s Tour arrives in the county on a weekend for the first time.
The fifth and final stage of the international cycling contest will see competitors - including the county’s own Hannah Barnes - start outside the Guildhall in Northampton at 10.45am on Sunday, June 19, before winding their way through Daventry and heading north towards the finish line in Kettering at about 2pm.
Last year Northamptonshire County Council claimed crowds watching the tour pumped £1 million into local businesses, and with the event falling on a Sunday this year instead of midweek, deputy leader Councillor Heather Smith (Con, Oundle) believes this year could top that.
Speaking at a launch event for the tour today, she said: “These international cycle races don’t just bring people onto the streets from the county itself, but it brings people from outside the county as well.
“It is an international event and one of the most important in the world.”
The £120,000 cost to stage the event in Northamptonshire will be split between the county council, Daventry District Council and Northampton Borough Council.
But with local authority budgets tight, Councillor Smith believes the expense is worth it.
She said: “It is not a huge amount if it means bringing into the county an international event, if you are bringing in money to the local economy and you are bringing in international visitors who are coming over to support their teams.”
For the first time the route will head through Daventry town centre, though in previous years it has only skirted around the district.
Shortly before arriving in the town, the cyclists will have to navigate the Newnham Hill, which stands 201 metres above sea level.
Chief executive of Daventry District Council Ian Vincent believes town centre traders will be encouraged to stay open on the Sunday to make the most of the crowds.
He said; “The town is quite busy on a Sunday as it is, but this could really be the making of some smaller businesses who perhaps operate from Monday to Saturday at present. Those small cafe’s and restaurants that would normally be closed, I’m sure they will open for the day.”
And he says Newnham Hill, one of two climbs on the stage - the other being in Naseby - will provide a tough test for the riders.
“I sometimes look at that hill and think I would get off and push the bike,” he said.
“It’s not quite a hill climb in the traditional sense, it’s not quite the Alps, but it will certainly be challenging for the riders.”
Last year Marks & Spencer’s Kettering branch recorded its busiest trading day on the day of the women’s tour.
This year the route will head through residential areas in Rothwell and Desborough before finishing on Kettering High Street.
Cabinet member for regeneration on Kettering Borough Council, Councillor Derek Zanger, said: “For us this event is about bringing people into the town and showing that we can put on successful events like this.
In Northampton, the start of stage five of the tour will coincide with Northampton Music Festival, which cabinet member for community engagement Councillor Brandon Eldred (Con, East Hunsbury) said will bring thousands into the town centre.
An interactive map will be released by race organisers Sweetspot in the coming weeks, which will show when he race is likely to head past key locations.
Rolling road closures will be in place across the county throughout the day.