SOME of the world’s leading cyclists are taking part in the prestigious Women’s Tour in Essex today.

The event - the UK’s biggest professional women’s cycling race - is coming to the Dengie.

The race has been rescheduled from its traditional June calendar position due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Stage four takes place today, starting in Shoeburyness at 11am moving through Rochford, Ashingdon, South Woodham Ferrers, Burnham, Bradwell, Latchingdon, Bicknacre, the A130 and A127, arriving at Southend Western Esplanade at about 2pm.

Rolling road closures will be in place as the cycle race passes through.

Twelve of the world’s top 15 teams will be among those in action at this year’s AJ Bell Women’s Tour.

Defending champion Lizzie Deignan, recently-crowned world time trial champion Ellen van Dijk, former winner Kasia Niewiadoma, and Tokyo 2020 medallists Marlen Reusser and Lisa Klein are among theriders announced for this year’s tour.

After a hiatus of more than 840 days, the race started in Oxfordshire on October 4.

Segafredo star Deignan became the AJ Bell Women’s Tour’s first two-time champion when she triumphed in June 2019’s race.

She was joined on the start line by team-mate van Dijk, who is set to wear the famous world champion’s rainbow jersey for the first time in the race’s first individual time trial stage.

Polish rider Niewiadoma was a popular winner of the race in 2017 and finished runner-up behind Deignan two years ago.

She will line up for Canyon SRAM Racing alongside Lisa Klein, who was part of the German quartet who won gold and set a new world record in the team pursuit – ahead of Great Britain – at this summer’s Olympic Games.

Klein, who will compete in her fifth edition of the race, also took gold in the world championships mixed relay time trial in Bruges, Belgium, last week.

Another contender for victory is Reusser, silver medallist in the time trial at both this year’s Olympics and world championships.

The Swiss champion will make her debut with the Alé BTC Ljubljana team.

Also competing are Lotte Kopecky, of Liv Racing, the reigning Belgian road and time trial champion, and Movistar Team’s Danish rider Emma Norsgaard, who took a memorable stage victory in this year’s Giro d’Italia Femminile.

Both riders are expected to be in contention for victories in the race’s sprint stages.

Having dominated the Škoda V-Women’s Tour, the virtual edition of the race held last year, the American TIBCO – Silicon Valley Bank squad will return with a strong team featuring reigning US road race champion Lauren Stephens and recent Ladies Tour of Norway stage winner Kristen Faulkner.

The fifth stage of the tour will finish in Clacton tomorrow.

The race will also take in Manningtree, Mistley and Lawford, Thorpe-le-Soken, Holland-on-Sea and Elmstead Market.

Villages along the route from Great Bromley to Clacton will also see the action twice as the peloton loops round the course.