SUPERSTAR cyclists from around the globe sped through north Essex in what was an enthralling blink-and-you-will-miss-it road race.

The Women’s Tour, which is part of the UCI Women’s WorldTour, was launched at the Colchester Sports Park yesterday morning.

The blistering event was officially kick-started by Colchester’s flag-waving deputy mayor, councillor John Jowers.

Setting off from the Stage 1 start line as excited spectators looked on in awe, 97 riders from 17 teams went to head-to-head opening leg of the competition.

Among the field were former winners Coryn Labecki and Kasia Niewiadoma, with the latter once again eyeing victory, having scooped the top prize back in 2017.

Brentwood Live: Picture: Steve BradingPicture: Steve Brading

British bikers Alice Barnes and Lizzie Holden also took part, as well as cyclists from the likes of Italy, Canada, Israel and Austria.

Over the course of the more than 22-miles of racing, the pack of bikers zipped through Colchester City Centre before heading to Layer-de-la-Haye.

The pedal-pushing athletes then headed to Langenhoe and Fingringhoe before biking through Rowhedge, Hythe, Greenstead and Ardleigh.

The cyclists then ventured out of Colchester before the race was temporarily stopped due to a medical incident ahead of the route.

After nearly an hour delay, the race was restarted, heading into Manningtree before finishing up in Bury St Edmunds where Clara Copponi crossed the finished line first.

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Mick Bennett, race director of The Women’s Tour said: “It was a delight to return to Colchester for the start of this year’s Women’s Tour and especially with Colchester Sports Park welcoming us once again.

“It is great that we can showcase this wonderful facility with the Women’s Tour and give people the chance to come see the Sports Park first hand. 

“We hope many will come back in the future to experience it with their own bikes.”

Adam Fox, deputy leader of Colchester Council, said: “Colchester has done itself proud in hosting the Grand Depart for this international sporting event.  

“Residents and visitors to the region could enjoy even more opportunities to get out and cheer on the riders who competed through our city and villages. 

“The Women’s Tour is such an exciting way to showcase our beautiful borough on the world’s stage, as well as the excellent cycling facilities at Colchester Sports Park.

“Keeping active is so vital to our physical and mental wellbeing - today’s event was a great opportunity to gain inspiration from the world’s most elite sports women.”

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Dedicated cycling fan Tracey Tyrell, from Harwich, travelled to the start line in Colchester with her excited children to witness the cyclists launch into race-mode.

She said: “We had a wonderful time - it was a little chilly but you can't help the weather The kids really enjoyed watching all the cyclists.”

Essex county councillor and Colchester resident Simon Crow also headed out to see the cyclists zoom through the city centre.

He said: “It is a huge honour for Colchester to have been chosen to host the grand depart of the world’s biggest all-female cycle race.

“The route took them through the heart of our historic town centre, right on the back of the weekend’s amazing jubilee celebrations.

“It was quite exciting to stand on the High Street and witness it.

“Hopefully our new city status will encourage more organisers of similar prestigious events to look to Colchester to host them.”

In addition to the exhilarating racing on offer during the event, budding young cyclists were also able to flex their talents on the Pump Track before the race.

Brentwood Live: Colchester’s flag-waving deputy mayor, councillor John JowersColchester’s flag-waving deputy mayor, councillor John Jowers

There was also a pre-race ride-out at the Colchester Sports Park led by paralympic track and field athlete London 2012 medallist Rob Womack.

He was joined by representatives from UK cycling charity Wheels For All and a procession of Colchester Council’s green electric cargo bikes.