Tour Series returns to Colchester... but Tour of Britain rethink for Stoke-on-Trent due to finance squeeze
Fourth year of city-centre crit in Essex... but budget pressures weigh in Staffordshire
Colchester is set to host a round of the Tour Series, now entering its fifth year, for the fourth time on Thursday 30 May. Meanwhile, cuts to council finances mean that Stoke-on-Trent, which hosted last year’s Tour Series finale, is rethinking its plans for the Tour of Britain, organised by the same company.
The Tour Series format of city-centre racing has proved hugely successful, receiving highlights coverage on ITV4, and is likely to benefit this year in even greater interest from the wider public following Team GB’s Olympic success last summer.
The Colchester round, which also coincides for the first time with school half-term holidays, will also feature some of the country’s top female riders participating in the Johnson Health Tech Grand Prix Series.
Councillor Lyn Barton, portfolio holder for Renaissance [I thought Colchester was more associated with Roman history? – ed] commented: “We are delighted to be hosting The Tour Series for the fourth time, with both the women's and men's races returning to Colchester this year.
“This event and surrounding activity will attract thousands of people to Colchester again for a world class racing event. It is a great opportunity for us all to get involved and celebrate Colchester as a place where people want to live, work and visit.”
Mick Bennett, Race Director of The Tour Series added, “Colchester provides us with a testing circuit, popular with both the riders and the fans. We’ve had some great races in our past visits to Colchester, and look forward to putting on another top class event this May.”
Colchester has become established as one of the perennial venues for the Tour Series, having survived a funding crisis that threw the 2010 round it hosted into doubt.
It’s finance that lies behind the decision of Stoke-on-Trent City Council to rethink its involvement with the Tour of Britain, or at least the scope of any stage that involves it.
The Staffordshire city has hosted a stage that has started and finished there in each of the past four editions, with a looping course taking in climbs such as Gun Hill, which has become a signature feature of the race. In 2009, it also hosted the finish of a stage that had started in Worcester.
The route of the stage has also featured as one of the Tour Ride series of sportives held alongside the main race.
According to The Sentinel, the council has spent a total of £820,000 during those past five editions of the race, but faced with having to find budget cuts totalling £50 million during the next two years, it is looking to reduce its involvement.
"The Tour of Britain has been a great success and we still have an aspiration to host it again,” said Councillor Mark Meredith, cabinet member for economic development. “But we won't be spending as much on it.
"Rather than a start and finish in the city, we'll negotiate to see if we can have a start or a finish at a reduced cost."
Tour of Britain organisers SweetSpot – whose contract with the race expires this year, with British Cycling putting it out to tender from 2014 on – told road.cc that they were unable to comment on specifics of this year’s race ahead of its official launch, which should take place in late February or early March.