SweetSpot, the Surrey-based company that has staged the Tour of Britain for the past decade since the race was relaunched in 2004, has been awarded the contract to organise the event for the next five years by the race owners, British Cycling.
The race, originally run as the Victory Marathon in 1945, has also gone by names such as the Milk Race, the Kellogg’s Tour and the PruTour during its existence, but that reliance on headline sponsorship made it vulnerable to financial pressures, and from 1995-97 and again from 2000-03 it was not held.
Under SweetSpot’s care, there is no longer that reliance on title sponsorship and, coinciding with the rise of Great Britain as a force on the track and, more recently, the road, the UCI 2.1 categorised event has gone from strength to strength – race director Mick Bennett has promised that this September’s edition will be “the most challenging Tour of Britain yet.”
The route has been getting tougher each year, and is also attracting a stronger field with each edition, including in the past two years both Thor Hushovd and Mark Cavendish in the rainbow jersey taking their final wins of their reign as world road champions.
British Cycling has set SweetSpot the task of raising the profile of the race further and achieve UCI HC categorisation, one tier below WorldTour level, and putting it on an equal footing with races such as the Tour of California.
Regarding the award of the contract to organise the race for 2014-18, Jonny Clay, director of Cyclesport and Membership at British Cycling, commented: “We’re delighted to announce SweetSpot will continue as British Cycling’s delivery partner for the Tour of Britain.
“I would like to thank them and the other bidders and also thank The Sports Consultancy for leading a tender process which attracted significant global interest.
“At the start of this process, we wanted to ensure we got the best possible deal for Britain’s cycling fans, to put in place a structure which would help the Tour of Britain graduate into the top division of the global cycling calendar.
“Of the many responses we received, SweetSpot best demonstrated an understanding of our desire for integrated activity and the strong relationship we would like our national tour to have with our wider programmes and initiatives.
“We’re confident the new commitment made by SweetSpot to grow the event’s stature and reputation, as well as the promise to raise standards in many areas, will deliver what fans of the sport want to see from our national tour in the future.
“The agreement sets out clear objectives for SweetSpot including the attainment of HC status for the race, a milestone that along with other improvements will help to encourage the participation of the very best teams and riders in the world.”
SweetSpot’s Director of Cycling at Sweetspot, Mick Bennett, added: “We are simply thrilled to be reappointed as British Cycling’s delivery partner for the Tour of Britain for another five years.
“We are proud of the work we have done over the last 10 years in making the Tour of Britain the event it is today and I look forward to working closely with British Cycling to deliver an even brighter future for the race.”
Besides organising the Tour of Britain, SweetSpot has also successfully developed the Pearl Izumi Tour Series of city-centre criteriums in recent years plus its female equivalent, the Johnson Health Tech Grand Prix Series.
This weekend sees the inaugural Prudential RideLondon event, which SweetSpot is organising jointly with the owners of the London Marathon.
In recent days, the company has also confirmed plans to stage a new five-day race, The Women’s Tour, with the first edition due to be held in May next year.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.