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Ford RideLondon Classique: Bishop’s Stortford councillor riding high as world’s top female professional cyclists are to race through East Herts villages





A Bishop’s Stortford councillor has helped to bring the highest-ranked women’s cycle race in the UK to East Herts this month.

More than 120 of the top female professional cyclists in the world will race through the district as the three-day 2024 Ford RideLondon Classique, from Friday May 24 to Sunday May 26, comes to Hertfordshire for the first time.

The event is a UCI Women’s WorldTour road race – the highest level of pro cycling – and will see the planet’s elite compete in Herts, Essex, Cambridgeshire and central London.

Charlotte Kool of Team DSM (NED), centre, celebrates on the podium after winning stage one of the 2023 Ford RideLondon Classique alongside runner-up Clara Copponi of FDJ-Suez Team (FRA), third-placed Lizzie Deignan of Trek-Segafredo Team (GBR), Mayor of Colchester Cllr John Jowers and UK managing director of Ford Lisa Brankin, left. Photo: Bob Martin for London Marathon Events
Charlotte Kool of Team DSM (NED), centre, celebrates on the podium after winning stage one of the 2023 Ford RideLondon Classique alongside runner-up Clara Copponi of FDJ-Suez Team (FRA), third-placed Lizzie Deignan of Trek-Segafredo Team (GBR), Mayor of Colchester Cllr John Jowers and UK managing director of Ford Lisa Brankin, left. Photo: Bob Martin for London Marathon Events

They include Britain’s Lizzie Deignan – the four-times national road race champion who, as Lizzie Armitstead, won the 2012 London Olympics silver medal, 2014 Commonwealth Games gold and the 2014 and 2015 season-long UCI Women’s Road World Cup – current world champion Belgium’s Lotte Kopecky, plus the last two winners of the race, Dutch duo Lorena Wiebes and Charlotte Kool.

Cllr Graham McAndrew, the Herts County Council member for Bishop’s Stortford Rural and an East Herts district councillor for Thorley Manor, has lobbied long and hard to change the route and has even bigger plans for the future with the ultimate aim of establishing Hertfordshire as “a cornerstone for elite cycling”.

He told the Indie: “As a passionate advocate for cycling and community engagement, I am proud to have collaborated with RideLondon since May 2022 to bring professional racing to the beautiful county of Hertfordshire.

Cllr Graham McAndrew has collaborated with RideLondon organisers since May 2022 to bring part of the 2024 Classique to Hertfordshire
Cllr Graham McAndrew has collaborated with RideLondon organisers since May 2022 to bring part of the 2024 Classique to Hertfordshire

“Through concerted efforts, I have initiated discussions to host the prestigious 2024 Ford RideLondon Classique, showcasing the talents of the top 122 women riders amidst our picturesque landscapes.

“It has been a privilege to foster a collaborative spirit, uniting various agencies to ensure seamless co-ordination for this year’s race from Saffron Walden to Colchester via Buntingford.

“Looking ahead, my vision extends beyond a one-time event. I aspire to establish Hertfordshire as a cornerstone for elite cycling, engaging in ongoing discussions for bespoke race routes that prioritise optimal conditions for competitors.

“By welcoming such prestigious races, we underscore our dedication to promoting active travel and cycling culture within our community.

The peloton in action during stage one of the 2023 Ford RideLondon Classique on Friday May 26. Photo: Adam Warner for London Marathon Events
The peloton in action during stage one of the 2023 Ford RideLondon Classique on Friday May 26. Photo: Adam Warner for London Marathon Events

“The forthcoming engagement with the public on the Local Cycling Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) by East Herts [district council] and Hertfordshire County Council further exemplifies our commitment to promoting a cycling-friendly environment.

“As we pave the way for these races to grace our county, we hope to inspire greater participation and enthusiasm for cycling among our residents, setting a shining example for others to follow.”

The early part of the Classique’s stage one on Friday (May 24) will take place in Herts, with riders competing for the first Queen of the Mountains points at Cokenach, the country house at Barkway.

The Ford RideLondon Classique cyclists will cover 393km (244.2 miles) in total over three stages
The Ford RideLondon Classique cyclists will cover 393km (244.2 miles) in total over three stages

The 159.2km (98.9-mile) stage starts in Saffron Walden at 11am and then heads west into Herts, arriving in Barley at around 11.25am and heading through Barkway (11.30am), Buckland (11.35am), Buntingford (11.45am), Great Hormead (11.50am), Brent Pelham (11.55am) and Pelham Gate (noon) before returning to Essex and finishing in Colchester.

Temporary road closures will be put in place as the stage passes through Hertfordshire, with no area scheduled to be impacted for longer than 45 minutes.

Charlotte Kool of Team DSM (NED) celebrates as she wins stage one of the 2023 Ford RideLondon Classique in Colchester. Photo: Bob Martin for London Marathon Events
Charlotte Kool of Team DSM (NED) celebrates as she wins stage one of the 2023 Ford RideLondon Classique in Colchester. Photo: Bob Martin for London Marathon Events

All addresses on or near the route will receive a leaflet from Ford RideLondon Classique organisers, with key information including road closure times, maps and contact information. Full details on road closures and race timings can be found on the Ford RideLondon website.

The 142.6km (88.6-mile) stage two on Saturday (May 25) begins and ends in Maldon in Essex. The third and final stage, of 91.2km (56.67 miles) takes place on Sunday (May 26) in central London, finishing on The Mall.



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