The 2021 AJ Bell Women's Tour - the UK’s first international stage race for women, bringing the world’s top riders to compete in Great Britain as a part of the UCI Women’s WorldTour - is underway and enters Essex tomorrow (Thursday).

The race attracts an annual roadside audience of 300,000, and millions more online.

Today is the race’s first ever individual time trial, and it starts and finishes in Atherstone town centre, North Warwickshire.

The route for Stage Four tomorrow (Thursday, October 7) is Shoeburyness to Southend-on-Sea.

Stage Five on Friday is Colchester to Clacton-on-Sea, and Stage Six on Saturday is Haverhill to Felixstowe.

Yesterday, Dutchwoman Amy Pieters (SD Worx) claimed the fourth AJ Bell Women's Tour stage victory of her career in Walsall, as debutante Clara Copponi moved into the race lead after a dramatic finale.

Pieters won from a 10-rider group who broke clear inside the final 10 kilometres of racing, and took advantage of support from team-mate Demi Vollering to out-sprint Copponi (FDJ Nouvelle - Aquitaine Futuroscope). Movistar Team's Sheyla Gutierrez took third.

After setting off from Walsall’s Victorian Arboretum in wet conditions the peloton tackled 10 laps of a 10-kilometre circuit featuring the climb of Barr Beacon on every lap.

The penultimate lap brought multiple attacks, with the race-winning move going clear and building a lead of half a minute on the run back to the finish in Walsall town centre.

Pieters said: “It was a hectic final. I think the whole day was pretty hectic.

"There was still a small gap after the last corner but I thought I just need to start to sprint.

"It was an urgent sprint but it went well at the end.

“The whole day was really aggressive, I think that we were the only ones attacking. We kept attacking with the team and at the end we went away and it was a really good group and luckily we made it.”

Follow the AJ Bell Women’s Tour on Twitter (#WomensTour), Facebook, and Instagram or via the event’s website at

Highlights are available on demand via the ITV Hub.

Competing teams

UCI Women’s World Teams: Alé BTC Ljubljana, Canyon SRAM Racing, FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope, Liv Racing, Movistar Team, SD Worx, Team BikeExchange, Team DSM, Trek-Segafredo

UCI Women’s Continental Teams: AWOL O’Shea, CAMS-Basso Bikes, Drops-Le Col s/b TEMPUR., Parkhotel Valkenburg, Team Coop – Hitec Products, Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank, Valcar-Travel & Service

Stages of the 2021 AJ Bell Women's Tour

Stage One, Monday October 4, Bicester to Banbury (147.6km);

Stage Two, Tuesday October 5, Walsall to Walsall (103km);

Stage Three, Wednesday October 6, Atherstone individual time trial (16.6km);

Stage Four, Thursday October 7, Shoeburyness to Southend-on-Sea (117.5km);

Stage Five, Friday October 8, Colchester to Clacton-on-Sea (95.3km);

Stage Six, Saturday October 9, Haverhill to Felixstowe (155km).