A major cycling event that passed through Essex and Suffolk generated almost £1.1m of net economic benefit, nearly all of which supported the local economy.

Stage one of the Women’s Tour 2022 – hosted by Colchester Borough Council and Suffolk County Council – saw 97 of the world’s best female cyclists race 142km from Colchester to Bury St Edmunds.

On Monday, June 6, a total of 45,500 spectators braved unseasonal weather to cheer on the riders, including stage one winner Clara Copponi, 2022 champion Elisa Longo Borghini and British rider Alice Barnes, who came fifth in the opening stage.

Setting off from the new Sports Park at Colchester’s Northern Gateway, stage one took in numerous historic towns and villages en route to the finish line on Angel Hill in Bury St Edmunds.

The result was a positive impact on the region’s tourism economy as 15,000 spectators came from outside the region – and 81% said they would visit again. With 8,000 visitors enjoying overnight stays, net spend per head was higher than 2021, when the region hosted two stages of the Tour.

It was also the first stage in Women’s Tour history to be broadcast live in the UK and worldwide. The highlights programmes attracted 111,000 UK viewers on ITV4 and 349,500 on Eurosport, while the stage webpage had 64,000 views.

“We love taking the Women’s Tour to the East of England because we know how much passion and love people have for the event,” said Jonathan Durling, Women’s Tour partnerships director.

“Once again, it was great to work with a number of local businesses to help deliver the stage. Their support is vital to the success and safe-running of the event, so they also deserve recognition.”

Local residents welcomed having the Women’s Tour on their doorstep, with 71% of spectators who live in a town along the route saying it made them feel “much more proud” of their home town. And 100% of visitors from towns not on the route said they would be “pleased” if the Tour passed through their home town in the future.

“The Women's Tour is a special annual event that we are proud to host in Colchester,” said Sam Good, Our Colchester business improvement district (BID) manager. “This year we saw even more interest as the riders made their through the high street.

“The fact that the stage one section of the Women's Tour had over 111,000 television viewers means that this tour has raised the profile of Colchester and surrounding areas – a great benefit to tourism in our area.”

Mark Cordell, CEO of Our Bury St Edmunds business improvement district, said: “I was yet again delighted that Bury St Edmunds played such a prominent role in the Women’s Tour event this year.

“We have a tourism strategy in place to attract visitors to our town from outside the county, and the Women’s Tour contributed considerably to another successful year, visitor-wise, for Bury.”

Karen Chapman, partnership manager at Suffolk Growth, said: “We think it’s important that high-profile major sporting events and festivals such as the Women’s Tour are staged locally and delighted that the Tour once again has made such a positive impact in Suffolk”.

Stage one sponsors also praised the impact on both the region and their own businesses.

“The sponsorship provided us with the opportunity to highlight our community activities and increase our membership base,” said Lynn Warner, East of England Co-op engagement manager.

Ian Surtees MBA FIoD, CEO of Vertas Group, added: “Vertas was proud to be a stage one partner and delighted that many local businesses were able to benefit from the publicity.”

For information on supporting future large-scale events in the region, including cycling events, please contact Colin Grogan at info@suffolkgrowth.co.uk or James Young at james.young@colchesteramphora.com