Women’s Tour arrives in Bedford with sprint finish along the Embankment - Italian rider wins the stage

Italian Rossella Ratto crosses the line at the Womens Tour in Bedford.
Italian Rossella Ratto crosses the line at the Womens Tour in Bedford.

Italian rider Rossella Ratto won the latest stage of the Women’s Tour, which arrived in Bedford this afternoon with a sprint finish along the Embankment as the world’s leading cyclists wowed the crowds.

Crowds lined the route from Bromham Road, through Brickhill, De Parys Avenue and onto the Embankment as the cyclists swept past, along with a host of motorbikes and support vehicles.

Womens Tour in Bedford.

Womens Tour in Bedford.

Britain’s Lucy Garner led the British charge being placed 5th in what became a tight finish at around 2pm today.

Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “I am proud of Bedfordians today for the brilliant support.

“The race was so exciting and the tight finish on the UK’s most beautiful Embankment was spectacular.”

Olympian Lizzie Armistead, who finished 7th, said: “A big thank you to everyone in Bedford for their support - it was amazing.”

Womens Tour in Bedford.

Womens Tour in Bedford.

Placed amongst the top 100 events in world cycling the Friends Life Women’s Tour is a five-day stage race around the east of England which is generating substantial interest in terms of sponsorship, television coverage, and in attracting some of the world’s top female cyclists.

Thursday’s stage from Hinckley to Bedford was expected to produce a sprint finish into Bedford with a crucial point being the final corner before the Embankment which will be an exciting left-handed turn before the final stretch to the finish line.

British riders in the race include 19 year-old Lucy Garner, twice a junior world champion and an exciting prosepct.

Local champions of women’s cycling from British Cycling’s Breeze network are also stationed throughout the tour and are on hand today for anyone interested in learning more about cycling for fun.

Some of the high-profile names competing include British Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead, who has welcomed the introduction of the women-only professional road race to the calendar.

She said: “I’ve been pretty vocal in my support for women’s cycling being treated properly and on an equal footing with the men so obviously am very excited about the Women’s Tour. I am totally behind what the organisers are doing and the ethics behind the race.”

There are up to 200 free Breeze bike rides across the country each week and over 1000 ‘Breeze Champions’ on board to offer guidance every pedal of the way.

To find out more about British Cycling’s Breeze Network visit www.breezebikerides.com To find out more about the Friends Life Womens Tour visit http://www.womenstour.co.uk

More updates on our website to follow.

There is a one-hour highlights show on ITV4 tonight at 9pm which features the highlights of today’s stage from Hinckley to Bedford.