OVO Energy Women's Tour grows to six stages for 2019

The OVO Energy Women's Tour will be made up of six stages in 2019, the race organisers announced on Friday morning.

The women's version of the Tour of Britain has steadily increased its reputation since its first edition in 2014, and can now look forward to attracting even more interest from teams, fans and the media for what is already a hugely popular and successful event, having already attracted 14 of the world's top 15 women's teams in 2018.

"We are delighted to have been granted a sixth day of racing for the OVO Energy Women's Tour to build upon the success of the first five editions," said race director Mick Bennett in a press release.

"Teams and riders have been asking us to extend the event and to broaden the range of stages, which the flexibility of a sixth day will enable us to do."

Like at the Tour Down Under in Australia, which also has both a men's and women's race, this year's Women's Tour and the Tour of Britain both had equal prize money, underlining the organisers' wish to challenge gender inequality in sport.

"This is fantastic news, both for the event and for women's cycling as a whole," said Chief Executive of British Cycling, Julie Harrington, of the race's additional stage.

"We have been very open about our determination to close our sport's historic gender gap, and this is yet another step towards that. Our ambitious target to get one million more women on bikes by 2020 is well on schedule, and the increased opportunities for women and girls to watch the world's best female riders racing on British roads can only help us towards that goal."

It was a sentiment echoed by Chris Houghton of race sponsor OVO Energy: "The Women's Tour is already one of the highlights on the global cycling calendar and adding a sixth day opens up new opportunities for the race and its riders. As title sponsor of the race and supporters of women's cycling, OVO Energy is thrilled at the prospect of showcasing the race in new regions and to new audiences."

Heath Harvey, the Chief Executive of SweetSpot Group, who organise the race, added that close collaboration with both British Cycling and cycling's governing body, the UCI, has meant that the event could be grown in a "sustainable fashion".

"We are immensely proud that Britain is at the forefront of the growth in women's cycling, and the addition of a sixth stage will enable us to take the event to more people than ever before, to showcase women's sport and inspire more people to be active and get on their bikes," he said.

Dates for the 2019 Women's Tour have yet to be announced, but are expected when the full UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar for next season is confirmed at the UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, next week.

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