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British Cycling takes control of Tour of Britain and Women’s Tour after promoter collapse

British Cycling takes control of Tour of Britain after promoter collapse
British Cycling takes control of Tour of Britain after promoter collapse

British Cycling has admitted it will be “incredibly challenging” to stage the Tour of Britain and the Women’s Tour this year after taking over the running of both races following the collapse of promoter SweetSpot.

However, it says it is holding “positive discussions” with potential partners and intends to stage both races in their current slots in the UCI calendar.

Cycling’s national governing body removed SweetSpot’s licence to stage the Tour of Britain late last year following a dispute over £700,000 in unpaid race licence fees. British Cycling announced a new “vision for major cycling events in Britain” on Friday afternoon.

As part of that vision, British Cycling confirmed it was taking over the running of the country’s premier stage races for men and women.

A combination of Brexit, Covid, rampant inflation, even the Queen’s death in 2022, which forced that year’s race to be curtailed, combined to cripple SweetSpot. The promoter entered liquidation last month.

SweetSpot had held the licence for the Tour of Britain since the modern race’s inception in 2004 and had a contract to promote the race until 2029. SweetSpot also started up the Women’s Tour in 2014, establishing it as one of the best women’s stage races in the world.

Since the company owned the rights to the ‘Women’s Tour’ outright, British Cycling has had to give that race a new name. It has chosen to rebrand the Tour of Britain at the same time, to bring them into line with each other.

The races will henceforth be known as the Tour of Britain-Men and the Tour of Britain-Women.

Women’s Tour to retain its top-tier status

It is understood the Tour of Britain-Women, which this year is scheduled to run from Tuesday June 4 to Sunday June 9, could be reduced from six days to reduce the financial burden, with the intention to go back up to six days in future editions.

Telegraph Sport has been told this would not affect its Women’s WorldTour status.

“While delivering the events in 2024 will be incredibly challenging, we have already commenced positive discussions with partners across all areas of commercial, broadcast and local delivery, and have been hugely encouraged by the support we have received to date,” British Cycling said in a statement.

“We understand that the uncertainty surrounding the two events has been a cause of concern and confusion for riders and teams, and we will be open and transparent to ensure the greatest possible participation and success in the two races scheduled to take place this year.”

Pidcock: ‘Tour of Britain an important race in the calendar’

Lizzie Deignan (Lidl-Trek), the two-time Women’s Tour champion, said in the same statement that she was hopeful partners would come forward.

“I’m really happy to see British Cycling investing to try and make sure these two important UK stage races happen in 2024 and for years to come, and I hope everyone can get behind this,” she said.

Ineos Grenadiers’ Tom Pidcock added: “As a British rider in a British team, riding the Tour of Britain is really special. It’s an important race in the calendar and you can’t beat the atmosphere of racing on home roads in front of local fans.

“As a kid who grew up watching the Tour of Britain, there is always something incredible about seeing elite cyclists racing around your own country. It’s an important race for everyone in the British cycling scene – the clubs, the fans, British riders and the next generations of home-grown talent who could win a race like this one day.

“Cycling events in Britain need support now more than ever before, and I really hope that everyone can rally behind this event to give us a race that the whole nation can be proud of.”

British Cycling said that while its immediate priority was to save Britain’s two premier road races, its longer-term vision involved all disciplines.

It said it was actively exploring the feasibility of a “multi-sport urban event series in Britain, including BMX freestyle”; was looking into conducting a feasibility study on “a new domestic track league concept”; was “continuing to support efforts to secure mountain bike and cyclo-cross World Cup rounds in Britain”; and was “delivering on the recommendations of the elite road racing task force, to support the long-term growth of our national series and championships for road and circuit racing”.

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