British Cycling takes control of women's and men's Tours of Britain in rescue plan

Governing body launches drastic plan to organise both races as part of new multi-discipline model, with Women's Tour scheduled for early June but still without sponsors

Clock15:00, Friday 2nd February 2024

© Sprint Cycling Agency

Wout van Aert won the 2023 men's Tour of Britain, whilst the women's race took a one-year hiatus

British Cycling is to re-launch the women's and men's Tours of Britain in a new multi-discipline model titled British Cycling Events, which will also focus heavily on a programme tackling issues of social justice, social mobility, social cohesion and inactivity.

The frantic plan to save the 2024 Tours of Britain will begin with the women's WorldTour event (scheduled for 4-9 June) and is a race against time that will rely on the goodwill and support of the British cycling community, the UCI, and the world's top teams.

With no sponsors, race route or stage details yet finalised, the British governing body has a mountain to climb as it seeks to unravel the tangled web left by previous Tour of Britain promoter, Sweetspot, which went into liquidation in January.

Read more: Tour of Britain future in doubt amidst financial dispute with British Cycling

British Cycling CEO Jon Dutton acknowledged that British road racing is at a pivotal moment, but said that the governing body is "looking ahead" and added that the launch of British Cycling Events was "an opportunity to build momentum and credibility and to engage with a new audience and communities."

British Cycling Events will be led by managing director, Jonathan Day. It will seek to explore the feasibility of a multi-sport urban series including BMX freestyle, build on the success of the UCI Track Champions League, support mountain bike and cyclo-cross World Cup rounds, and deliver on the recommendations of BC's Elite Road Racing Task Force.

The dispute with Sweetspot, over £700,000 of unpaid licence fees to British Cycling for the men's Tour of Britain, became public last autumn, soon after the promoter had assisted both the UCI and BC with the delivery of the UCI's multi-disciplinary 'super-Worlds' in Glasgow.

"In working through the untenable situation we found ourselves in, we thought long and hard about bringing everything together," Dutton told a select group of media at Manchester Velodrome.

Describing BC's financial position as "tough," Dutton said that "as a not-for-profit organisation, money that we bring in is invested back into cycling, which is why the outstanding debt hurts."

But there are also further debts owed by Sweetspot, for race policing, prize money and to other local authorities, including the Isle of Wight. Despite this, Dutton insisted that the races still enjoyed countrywide support and goodwill.

That sentiment was reinforced by recent statements from Ineos Grenadiers' new CEO John Allert, who has pledged the team's support to the races, and from figureheads of the British scene, Lizzie Deignan and Tom Pidcock.

Deignan, winner of the Women’s Tour in 2016 and 2019, said: "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."

Pidcock, who will race for Team GB in this summer's Paris Olympics, also supported the initiative. "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," he said.

"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. Cycling events in Britain need support now more than ever before."

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