Tour of Britain organisers SweetSpot Group have expressed their “surprise and disappointment” at British Cycling’s decision to put out an open tender to decide who will organise the race from 2014.
Sweetspot have organised the race since its revival in 2004 but, with the tenth anniversary approaching, British Cycling are inviting expressions of interest before the official tender process, which will be managed by The Sports Consultancy, opens in January.
“Against the backdrop of our continued success over recent years and the amazing success this summer with our first Tour de France winner and 16 gold medals at London 2012, it’s important that we take a fresh look at how the Tour of Britain can deliver continued growth and profile for the sport,” said British Cycling president Brian Cookson.
“Sweetspot has nurtured and developed the event over recent years but the time is now right to assess all options. Most crucially, we want to assure our current and future members and all cycling fans that we will have their interests at heart throughout this process and we look forward to further developing an event that reflects the current status of our sport in this country.”
Sweetspot revived the Tour of Britain after a five-year absence and the week-long stage race has grown from strength to strength, regularly attracting a competitive field of WorldTour teams alongside domestic squads, and this year Endura Racing’s Jonathan Tiernan-Locke became the first Briton to win the race since its return to the calendar.
Sweetspot will participate in the tender process, according to a statement released by the company, in order to retain the right to organise the Tour of Britain in future, highlighting the growth of the race under their current stewardship.
“In order to protect the interests of cycling fans across the UK, SweetSpot initiated the revival of the Tour in 2004 and they based their plans on a sustainable model to insulate the event from the vagaries of the sponsorship marketplace,” read Sweetspot’s statement.
“This action has been vindicated by the consistent growth and increased profile of the event, despite having to endure one of the worst recessions in living memory.
“The team at SweetSpot have created unrivalled relationships with stakeholders around the country, including the police, highway authorities and the regions, counties, cities and towns into which The Tour of Britain has been invited since 2004, taking the race to millions of spectators around the UK. SweetSpot will continue to protect the interests of these stakeholders many of whom can also take much of the credit for the revival of what has become an iconic event.
“These relationships have spawned other events, such as the Tour Series, which form the current backbone of the UK domestic cycling calendar. Furthermore SweetSpot have recently been appointed, jointly with the London Marathon Ltd, the delivery partner of the Olympic legacy cycling event, RideLondon, from 2013 onwards.
“Not only have new sponsors been introduced to the sport in Britain, but media coverage in all forms has been stimulated, including live daily television coverage on a UK and global platform.
“By guaranteeing the inclusion of British teams, the Tour has been a catalyst for the development of cycling in this country over the past decade.
“The SweetSpot team would like to state its continued commitment, investment and passion for organising and promoting national and international cycling events, and look forward to announcing details of the 2013 Tour of Britain and Tour Series early in the New Year.”