Matrix Fitness will be extending their support of women’s cycling in 2014, with the renamed Matrix Fitness Grand Prix Series and the Matrix Fitness Best Young Rider Jersey in the Friends Life Women’s Tour.

Matrix Fitness has extended their support of women’s cycling by sponsoring the Matrix ‘Best Young Rider’ Jersey in the forthcoming Friends Life Women’s Tour, which will be awarded to the leading Under-23 competitor in the new international stage-race.

The news was confirmed at the launch in Stoke-on-Trent of the Matrix Grand Prix Series, Britain’s leading televised women’s cycle race series that takes place during May and June.

Stoke-on-Trent will host the opening round of the newly renamed Matrix Grand Prix Series (formerly the Johnson Health Tech GP Series) alongside the men’s Pearl Izumi Tour Series event on Tuesday 13 May.

Coming just two days after the finish of The Friends Life Women’s Tour, attention on women’s sport will be high, giving an even greater focus of attention to the opening round.

Councillor Adrian Knapper, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Stoke-on-Trent City Council, (pictured below third from left), said: “This is an event which attracts thousands of spectators and it’s even more exciting this year because we have the first round here in Stoke-on-Trent.

“This is a great opportunity to show what we have to offer and promote the city to a big audience. The race always attracts people to the city centre not just from North Staffordshire but further afield and that provides a welcome boost to the local economy.

“I hope as many people as possible will come along, join in with the fun and support the event. As in previous years, we will also be organising a range of supporting events to involve local residents, schools and businesses on the day.”

It will mark the fifth successive year that the city has hosted top level women’s cycle races as a part of The Pearl Izumi Tour Series men’s event.

Subsequent rounds will take place in Peterborough (Tuesday 20 May), Edinburgh (Thursday 29 May) and Redditch (Tuesday 3 June), before the final round in Woking on Tuesday 10 June.

Matrix Fitness Managing Director, Jon Johnston commented on the decision to extend the company’s sponsorship:

“The Health Survey for England 2012 found that 43% of young women aged 16-24 failed to meet recommended levels of physical activity, compared with 17% of young men. As a stakeholder in the fitness industry, we are proud to be able to help to address this imbalance by supporting U23 female riders through the Matrix Fitness – Vulpine team and The Tour events, promoting positive, healthy role models for young women; particularly as research suggests that those who become active between the ages of 16 and 29 are more likely to maintain these levels of activity into later adulthood.”

Below – riders from several teams were in Stoke-on-Trent at Staffordshire University to promote the opening round of the 2014 Matrix Fitness GP Series.

Commenting on the announcement, SweetSpot Director Guy Elliott said;

“It is absolutely wonderful to see Stoke-on-Trent based Johnson Health Tech UK continue to lead the field in support of women’s cycling in UK through their Matrix Fitness brand. For some years now Johnson Health Tech has been the key driver in helping to deliver progress and change in women’s cycling, which is now gathering real momentum.

“Their sponsorship of the GP Series has been absolutely pivotal in setting the bar high in terms of having a top quality domestic televised racing series, and it is great to see them continue their support in 2014.

“We are delighted that they are also sponsoring the Best Young Rider competition in the inaugural Friends Life Women’s Tour in 2014. It is no exaggeration to say that the current boom in women’s racing in UK has much to do with the support of Johnson Health Tech and Matrix Fitness and we thank them for their continued support.”

The Friends Life Women’s Tour gets underway on Wednesday 7th May in Oundle taking place over five stages in Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex and Suffolk, with the race concluding in Bury St Edmunds’ Angel Hill on Sunday 11th May.

The Matrix Fitness GP Series gets underway in Stoke-on-Trent, alongside the men’s Pearl Izumi Tour Series, on Tuesday 13 May.