Funding squeeze forces Northants town out but council hopes to be back in 2012

With just three weeks to go until the first round of the 2011 Halfords Tour Series, it is being reported that budget cuts have forced the Northamptonshire town of Kettering to pull out of hosting a race in the 10-round competition.

Kettering hosted round six of the competition, now in its third year, last June, with Kristian House of Rapha-Condor-Sharp clinching victory. The town, formerly home to British Cycling, had hoped stage a round again this year, but it has had to withdraw as a result of sponsors backing out.

Jim Hakewill, leader of Kettering Council, told the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph: “We would have loved to have hosted it again this year but unfortunately the major sponsors are not available.

“At the end of the day it’s something we’d love to bring back but clearly the council taxpayer cannot be expected to fund this type of event.

“The good news is that we very much hope if things improve that we might see the return of the tour in 2012 – if any businesses would like to sponsor a future event please get in touch with the council.”

Last year’s event was sponsored by Northamptonshire NHS, the East Midlands Development Agency, Northamptonshire County Council and North Northamptonshire Development Company, meaning that Kettering Council did not have to put up any money itself.

According to the Kettering Council website, last year’s event, which was supported by children’s races, coaching sessions and other activities, drew visitors from around the country, benefiting local businesses to the tune of £400,000. Some 94% of visitors surveyed said that they “had a very enjoyable time” at the race, while 67% said that it had “inspired them to ride a bike more.”

The Northamptonshire Evening Times said that the decision had caused disappointment among locals, with one, Mick Scrimshaw, saying: “The kids and the wife loved it and it was great fun. It was great to watch Kettering on national TV later, too – for a brief moment it put Kettering on the map. It’s a big, prestigious event and it’s a real shame it won’t be coming back this year.”

The Halfords Tour Series is run by SweetSpot, the same company that organises the Tour of Britain, and we’ll bring you their reaction to this news as soon as we can.

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.