2021 World Champion Elisa Balsamo wins in Felixstowe (Credit: SWpix.com)

A Birmingham city centre finale, the most northerly stage in race history and a return to three former host venues are among the highlights of this year’s Women’s Tour, details of which have been revealed today.

Britain’s longest-running international women’s cycle race returns for its ninth edition in 2023, with this year’s route featuring six new start and finish locations and opportunities aplenty for combative and unpredictable racing.

This year’s Women’s Tour will comprise the following stages:

Stage one: Wednesday 7 June, Stratford-upon-Avon to Royal Leamington Spa
Stage two: Thursday 8 June, Northampton to Ampthill
Stage three: Friday 9 June, Dalby Forest to Guisborough
Stage four: Saturday 10 June, Coleshill to Derby
Stage five: Sunday 11 June, Birmingham city centre circuit race

The route announcement comes as the race organisers have revealed that the race urgently requires additional commercial income for the 2023 edition. As well as the title sponsorship of the event, three of the race’s four prestigious jersey classifications (leader, mountains, and best young rider) remain available, while individual stage partnership packages (including naming rights) have been launched for the first time for selected stages. The search for an auto partner to supply vehicles also continues.

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. Visit womenstour.co.uk/partners/commercial-opportunities for more information.

Despite being the second most visited county in race history, Warwickshire will host the Women’s Tour Grand Départ for the first time ever in 2023. Over 100 of the world’s best riders will set out from the world-famous town of Stratford-upon-Avon, best known for being the birthplace of Shakespeare. 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.

Stage two will start in Northampton, a town forever linked to the race having hosted its first-ever stage finish in 2014. The most southerly day of the race will culminate in the Central Bedfordshire town of Ampthill, the first new host venue of the 2023 edition.

The Queen stage of this year’s Women’s Tour comes on day three, from Dalby Forest to Guisborough via the North York Moors. Home to over 8,500 acres of walking, running and cycle trails, the Forestry England site hosted the men’s Tour of Britain in 2008. Guisborough is also no stranger to cycling, having previously welcomed rounds of the Tour Series circuit race event in 2021 and 2022.

Three days on from hosting the Grand Départ, Warwickshire will feature once again, with the North Warwickshire market town of Coleshill marking the starting point for stage four. Set entirely within the Midlands, the peloton will race towards the city centre of Derby, which is home to one of the UK’s six indoor velodromes.

Nearly a year on from hosting a spectacular Commonwealth Games, this year’s Women’s Tour will culminate in Birmingham – Britain’s second city – on Sunday 11 June. Stage five will comprise a circuit race around the city’s famous Jewellery Quarter. The successor to 2022 champion Elisa Longo Borghini will be crowned a stone’s throw away from the historic St Paul’s Square.

Mick Bennett, Women’s Tour race director, said: “While it seems like only yesterday that we were crowning Elisa Longo Borghini as our 2022 champion following that dramatic finale in Oxford, it feels fantastic to unveil the stages for this year’s Women’s Tour. Given the current economic climate, we have had to work harder than ever before to put together a race befitting of the world’s best teams and riders, so I must thank all of our stakeholders for their continued support of the event.

“We look forward to seeing engaged communities, packed towns, and crowded cities at this year’s race. See you all in June!”

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 Demi Vollering (2021).

Further details of this year’s race, including competing teams, leaders’ jerseys and stage routes, will be revealed in the coming weeks.