British Cycling today announced that the running of the Tour of Britain will be put out to an open tender from 2014.

The news will comes as a blow to SweetSpot, who have organised the event since its return to the calendar in 2004.

However, it is likely to be of interest to Tour de France organiser ASO. Earlier this year it was in the running to be chosen as the delivery partner for the London Olympic legacy event (ironically won by SweetSpot and the London Marathon group), and has previously been interested in organising the Tour of Britain.

British Cycling President Brian Cookson said: “It’s important that we take a fresh look at how the Tour of Britain can deliver continued growth and profile for the sport.

“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 will deliver next year’s race – scheduled for September 15-22 – and in a statement it confirmed its intention to participate in the bidding process.

A statement released by the sports event and marketing company this morning read: “SweetSpot Group would like to express their surprise and disappointment at the decision by British Cycling to seek expressions of interest to tender for the right to organise The Tour of Britain from 2014 onwards.

“SweetSpot fully intend to participate in this process, and retain the right to organise and promote Britain’s biggest professional road race from 2014 onwards, especially given the continued growth and unparalled success of the event under their ten-year 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. 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 invitation to tender will officially be launched in January. The process will be managed on behalf of British Cycling by London-based The Sports Consultancy group. 

  • Mark Jones

    Sorry, Dave – I was being ironic and just showing how stupid this move by BC is. I know this year’s was the biggest and best ToB having stood with thousands on Caerphily Mountain as opposed to 2-3 fans on Downham Moor in 1993 (when Phil Anderson won the race). There are no Premier Calendar races within 200 miles of Bristol let alone 50 miles. Yes the ToB could be bigger and better but the steady progress over the last 10 years is the best way to go (as opposed to the Tour of Ireland and Lance Armstrong!) and if the UCI would grant the race 2.HC status as the organisers had tried for then it could become bigger and better without the need for ASO’s involvement. If the Premier Calendar was thriving and BC had introduced a number of other UCI races then fair enough, but they haven’t. Whereas Sweetspot have increased the ToB from 5 to 8 days and kept it going longer than the Kellogg’s plus they’ve introduced a series of town centre races. Therefore Sweetspot have helped our domestic teams immensely over the last few years but we can’t say the same about the Premier Calendar or BC.

  • Colnago dave

    Mark,

    Not sure what planet you just beamed down from, no big names last year, what a blow to Cav & Wiggo’s ego amongst others that statement must have been.
    It had TV coverage, plenty of spectators a class field but obviously you missed all that.

    Being of the Old Fart variety I can remember great races like the Archer, the Vaux Trophy etc. top class English riders coming up to Scotland to ride the Classic races we had up here. Also full fields for Time Trials etc, now all we have are sportives which BC seem to be wishing to get a bigger foothold in.
    The truth is we are losing events on a weekly basis and the only reason I renewed my BC membership was due to the Production line at the velodrome etc.
    I thought long and hard before renewing as given that BC is part of the UCI and I would like nothing better than to see the UCI obliterated.

  • Brian Cookson

    I don’t normally comment on web forums, but I feel I have to say that this comment from Stuart Stanton; “That bloke Cookson ….. the last time I came across him he was shouting and bawling words you wouldn’t want to hear at the bunch in a LVRC plod up on Fylde” is either a case of mistaken identity or a complete and utter fabrication. I am a member of LVRC and have many good friends and fellow competitors in that organisation, so why on earth would I do any such thing? Bizarre.

  • Mark Jones

    You have to applaud BC for this brave move and I have faith in them as the Premier Calendar grows stronger by the year and I can’t wait to go and watch all the races within 50 miles of Bristol next year. The Premier Calendar has risen from a measly 6 events in 1993 to a staggering 27 events in 2013 and BC have to be commended for this. I’m really looking forward to seeing our domestic riders competing against some of the best European UCI contintental in the new UCI 2.2 Tour of Wales and the now established Bath to Bristol Classic (UCI 1.1). Is it not time for Brian Cookson OBE to become Sir Brian Cookson for his services to British Cycling.

    On the other hand, the Tour of Britain is growing weaker by the year and gone are the days when we were treated to Rock Racing and this year the race reached an all-time low with no big names and it showed with the poor crowds along the route (I stood on Caerphily Mountain with two other fans and longed for the lofty days when I stood on Downham Moor with thousands). Therefore if you ask me then this is the time to put the ToB out to tender and congratulations to BC @ BC for making this brave move to take this race away from Sweetspot before they reduce its’ popularity any further. What have Sweetspot done for cycling in this country? Nothing whatsoever and thank God BC are stepping in to make sure they return this race to its former glories before it disappears for ever. If our domestic teams are to have any chance of surviving then BC’s intervention here will save them.

  • Mike

    You have to feel sympathy for SweetSpot. Take an event from nothing to international recognition. Grow it year on year, and then the governing body say thanks for that, now that its worth something we will give it to a bigger company so they can make some cash out of it while cycling has a high profile.
    If it all goes pear shaped when cycling is no longer flavour of the month I feel sure SweetSpot will be delighted to take it back and rebuild it.

    Shame on BC.

  • myles McCorry

    i wonder will the new organiser dump the mental transfers. killer for riders and press. imagine riding 5 hours then sitting in a bus for 5 more!

  • Steve

    Who remembers the Archer Grand prix? This great race, one with a long history and one of the most prestigious on the domestic calendar stopped being held three years ago because the cost of running it – mainly down to police costs – became too high and sponsorship wasn’t found. BC wouldn’t help fund it because, they said, if they helped fund this race then every race would want funding. Great. So a race that was an important stepping stone for all of out top riders was lost. Look up the Archer Grand Prix to see the past winners and competitors. It’ll make you weep. I for one am disgusted with what is happening to our domestic scene. BC need to be lobbying business to get sponsors on board. They need to guarantee decent advertising for races to get these sponsors seen. Maybe set up a fighting fund to make up any shortfall in funding. What’s wrong with funding great races? So what if other races ask for funding? Just give what money has been raised from BC members until it runs out. Members WANT races, not lame management. They need to get the races established and let spectators know when racing is going on. The money WILL follow. BC are failing cyclists. Where will our next generation come from if there are no races?

  • Steve Glover

    I would echo the comments asking what British Cycling’s priorities should be; the Tour of Britain seems to be going from strength to strength as it is albeit on what always appears a pretty random route but even the TdF seems to look that way these days. On the one hand there is a huge growth in sportives which appear to be able to generate cash for a range of more or less deserving causes/interests. On the other there is the elite road race series which is dying on its feet; surely BC should be investing in those for the sake of the future of the sport in this country and in building in development races around them for other categories making local festivals of cycling which would get interest building in the way that say the Pendle cycling week has done in Lancashire. In the current climate raising 20K per event can’t be easy for organisers who could be concentrating on building in more community involvement etc. Hats off to event organisers who deserve every credit with continue to put on events in this litigious age.

  • Ken

    Sam, “But the fact is that its good business practice to put contracts out to tender”
    … No doubt why on the West Coast Main line, the tax-payers left with a multi-million bill to land back at square one.

    Keeping Sweetspot sharp? Well the success of ToB compared to Premier Calender doesn’t suggest it’s Sweetspot that’s getting blunt

  • sheldon

    Without Sweetspot there wouldn’t be a TofB. Did BC step in when the race was lost. Like other people have said perhaps BC could spend their time, effort and money and organise a set of races for our home professional teams. I am quickly losing confidence in BC’s ability to look after our grassroots and domestic elite racing.

  • stuart stanton

    It doesn’t make any sense at all. I bet they make a right old mess of the tendering in the manner of the West Coast Train fiasco. That bloke Cookson is a good one for the smooth PR speak, the last time I came across him he was shouting and bawling words you wouldn’t want to hear at the bunch in a LVRC plod up on Fylde. Fact……there have been no traffc related incidents around the ToB in its present form…..Well done

  • Dave Rowe

    How ironic that Brian Cookson says that BC ‘look forward to further developing an event that reflects the current standing of our sport in this county’. WHAT? Just like they have the Premier Calender? Utterly disgraceful! If, as it would appear, BC have no real interest in developing premier domestic road racing in this country – they should be handing over the job of resurrecting the PC to Sweetspot as well.

  • Ken Evans

    “SweetSpot Group would like to express their surprise and disappointment at the decision by British Cycling to seek expressions of interest to tender for the right to organise The Tour of Britain from 2014 onwards.”—-This is the tail-wagging-the-dog ! Sweetspot have done a great job with the ToB, it is BC that needs to get help with organising lower level races such as the Premier Calendar series, it is similar to all the messing around that Colin Clews got from BC over the CiCle Classic. BC have lost the plot on this one, what the hell has ASO ever done for racing in the UK, they have just tried to surf on the current popularity of cycling in Britain because of Wiggins etc, ASO need to get their TDF anti-doping controls sorted out first, before taking over the ToB.

  • Peter Goodall

    I agree with Terry,B.C.[does this stand for Before Christ?] just want more money!
    Let SweetSpot carry on the good work.

  • lee

    A good move by BC, makes complete sense to open up to a tender scenario. Why limit the options, keeps sweetspot sharp, but also another company may have better ideas. Bravo BC

  • Mike

    Probably Terry.

    “Continued growth and profile for the sport.” Sound a little too close to the latest outpouring from the UCI.
    If the event has been growing year on year under SweetSpot’s management why change a winning combination??

    So, the event goes to a foreign company, the profits from the event will be used to swell there coffers, not plowed back into British Cycling. Also, if world cycling has a crisis, the foreign company would drop the ToB like a stone and concentrate on there own events.

  • T Anderson

    Any plans for ToB Feminine? Perhaps then Sky would consider a female squad.

    The women’s Olympic RR was a race, whereas the Men’s ORR was just a procession.

  • Andrew Knights

    Sweetspot have done such a great job and built the tour out of pretty much nothing. Never knew BC owned the race? BC could well do with concentrating on the Premier Calendar first.

  • Sam

    Maybe the motive is to keep the ASO onside for the Tour. But the fact is that its good business practice to put contracts out to tender. Even if the current provider’s doing a good job, its still a good idea to keep them sharp.

  • Terry

    Greed ?