After months of rumblings about a new Tour of Britain organisers have finally confirmed that the new, elite status, event will take place on 1 -5 September.
Britain has been without a tour since the PruTour ended due to lack of financial backing five yeas ago. Before that the Milk Race – which was predominantly for amateurs and only took professional teams in its last decade – ended its 35-year run in 1993.
Despite the financial difficulties faced by previous events, organisers of the reivived Tour, SweetSpot, are confident that they can make a financial success of the Tour and have already negotiated both local and national BBC coverage. Moving away from the previous title-sponsorship model, Sweetspot have adopted the approach of the Tour de France in working with a combination of public and commercial sponsors.
The race itself has the full backing of the UCI with a Category 2.3 elite status and will feature sixteen professional teams: The plan is that the Tour will become part of the revamped pro Tour in 2005. The current proposed route is a little sketchy still at this stage, if you’ll excuse the pun. The first stage is to take place in the north west of England with the second in Yorkshire. The third stage will visit cities in the East Midlands and the fourth stage, on Saturday, will be centred on South Wales. The final stage is the most clearly defined with a criterium on the streets of Westminster.
Given the scope of the Tour there are plenty of national, regional and local bodies involved in providing support, from the Department of Culture to local police and tourism departments. So far, so enthusiastic, seems to be their response to the Tour, at least according to the long string of welcoming quotes sent through to us by the event organisers.
And Britain’s answer to Jean-Marie Leblanc? Two-times World Champion Tony Doyle MBE has been appointed as Event Director and will have responsibility for team matters and the interests of the individual riders.
We’ll be bringing you more details of stages and teams as we have them.