Three weeks to save the Women’s Tour as organiser launches crowdfunding campaign
There are just three weeks to save the 2023 Women's Tour, Cycling Weekly understands, after the race's organiser launched a crowdfunding campaign in the wake of ongoing sponsorship woes.
Organiser SweetSpot is seeking to raise £100,000 through a GoFundMe campaign to meet “ever-increasing organisational costs, as well as a shortfall from sponsorship income”.
Inflation has hit the race hard with hotel costs for the riders and staff, which run into the hundreds, each night nearly doubling in the last year.
The organisation said: “At present, three of the race’s four prestigious jersey classifications (leader, mountains, and best young rider) remain available, while individual stage partnership packages (including naming rights) are also on offer for the first time for selected days.”
Cycling Weekly understands organisers are hoping to raise £500,000 from a combination of the crowdfundig target and additional sponsorship but that £350,000 may be enough to make the race viable.
It's understood significant funding needs to be in place by Easter weekend, when SweetSpot will start to incur costs for race infrastructure, so a decision on whether to proceed with the 2023 edition can be reached.
The crowdfunding initiative follows the unveiling of the route last week which has been cut from six stages to five in the wake of mounting costs.
At that time SweetSpot said the race “urgently requires additional commercial income” in order to run in 2023 and that the race is without a vehicle sponsor for its convoy.
Launching the crowdfunding campaign today Nick Bull, Women’s Tour PR manager, said: “Having been inundated with messages from people wishing to show their support for the race over the past week, launching a crowdfunding campaign seemed the logical thing to do.
“We’ve been blown away by their kind words and everybody associated with the race thanks them for their continued support!”
Also former World Champion Lizzie Deignan has said if the race was unable to go ahead it would be a “huge loss” for the sport.
The Trek-Segafredo rider told PA: “It’s a really important race because June doesn’t have many stage races, so it’s brilliant preparation ahead of the national championships and the Tour de France.
“The way the race is run is extremely professional and it’s probably been the most professional race we’ve had on the calendar.”
This year’s race is due to start in Royal Leamington Spa before visiting Deignan’s home county of Yorkshire on stage three. The race’s finale will be held on a circuit in the centre of Birmingham.
The race’s financial difficulty follows that of its sister series the Tour Series which organiser SweetSpot scrapped earlier this year citing “the most challenging economic climate the series has faced”.
SweetSpot issued a statement that read: “It has proved impossible to compile a commercially viable calendar of events for May due to the pressures on local authority funding, combined with the wider economic challenges all businesses face.”