The assistant race director for Ford RideLondon Classique - which starts in Saffron Walden - has praised the Essex cycling community ahead of the event.

Former world hour record holder and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Alex Dowsett will support race director and fellow former professional racer Scott Sunderland for the women's cycling event, which takes place towards the end of May.

Stage 1 of the race is a 150km journey between Saffron Walden and Colchester on Friday, May 26, passing through the towns and villages of Clavering, Wethersfield, Halsted and Manningtree among others, and finishing on top of East Hill.

Stage 2 takes place on Saturday, May 27 and starts and ends in Maldon, taking in Abberton, Tiptree and Little Baddow en route, with three circuits of the North Hill to complete the stage.

Alex Dowsett, who began his cycling career at Maldon and District Cycling Club, said: "This is a unique opportunity to watch elite women’s cycling in the UK, and the race shows the best of Essex and London.

"North Essex is beautiful for quiet lanes and rolling roads, the towns and villages are so picturesque, and the exposure of finishing on The Mall is exciting for everyone.

"To see it in my hometown and on roads I have spent hours training on makes it even more special. 


"There is a real community in Essex for welcoming young cyclists. The county is quite flat which makes it more enjoyable when cyclists are starting out, and there are vast networks of tiny lanes where you can disappear and stay off the main roads.

"I loved riding here as I was part of something bigger and I hope this can continue to inspire people to take part."

The final stage of RideLondon Classique, on Sunday, May 28, is a 91km race which will take place in central London, starting and finishing at The Mall.

Alex added: "Women’s cycling is growing in popularity in the UK and we should celebrate the riders who have played such a significant role in making that happen. It promises to be a hugely exciting race."