British Cycling has this afternoon committed to attempting to deliver both a men's and women's edition of the Tour of Britain in 2024, the governing body announcing its "new vision" for major cycling events in Britain following months of doom and gloom.
Earlier this week the Tour of Britain and Women's Tour disappeared from the UCI's 2024 race calendar, but British Cycling has today revealed that "positive discussions with partners across all areas of commercial, broadcast and local delivery have already commenced" with a view to running the men's Tour of Britain in its usual September calendar slot, and a women's event during the dates previously occupied by the Women's Tour, which was cancelled last year.
The announcement comes after months of negativity about the future of the races, the former organiser of the Tour of Britain and owner of the Women's Tour, Sweetspot, entering voluntary liquidation a couple of weeks ago, that news coming after British Cycling had, in November, terminated its contract with the events company over what the governing body said is a financial dispute about unpaid rights fees.
British Cycling has now said it recognises the "vital importance of the events to our teams, riders and our national cycling identity" and said it is "our ambition to deliver two national tours (the Tour of Britain – Women and Tour of Britain – Men) in 2024 and beyond", with the races hopefully delivered in the calendar slots previously occupied by the Women's Tour and Tour of Britain.
"We have a long-term vision to grow the races and their stature within the global cycling calendar, making the most of Britain's most iconic and challenging routes to provide unforgettable moments for riders, fans and communities alike," a press release from the governing body stated.
And while British Cycling has accepted that delivering the races this year will be "incredibly challenging", it insisted that "positive discussions" are underway and promised to be "transparent" with teams and riders to avoid "uncertainty" causing "concern and confusion.
"I'm really happy to see British Cycling investing to try and make sure these two important UK stage races happen in 2024 and for years to come, and I hope everyone can get behind this," Lizzie Deignan commented.
Tom Pidcock also praised the announcement: "As a British rider in a British team, riding the Tour of Britain is really special. It's an important race in the calendar and you can't beat the atmosphere of racing on home roads in front of local fans.
"As a kid who grew up watching the Tour of Britain, there is always something incredible about seeing elite cyclists racing around your own country. It's an important race for everyone in the British cycling scene — the clubs, the fans, British riders and the next generations of home-grown talent who could win a race like this one day.
"Cycling events in Britain need support now more than ever before, and I really hope that everyone can rally behind this event to give us a race that the whole nation can be proud of."
"A new vision for major cycling events"
The Tour of Britain revival plan is the headline news of a wider "new vision" from British Cycling about how to ensure "our members and cycling fans have the opportunity to watch all of our country’s best riders compete on home soil".
Beyond just the road, the governing body says it will explore the feasibility of a multi-sport urban event series, including BMX freestyle, in the UK, "build on the success of the UCI Track Champions League" by conducting a feasibility study on a new domestic track league concept, and "continue to support efforts" to secure mountain bike and cyclo-cross UCI World Cup rounds in Britain.
Work will be underpinned by a "new social impact framework", British Cycling says, to guide decision-making through an effort to "establish the criteria by which our events will positively impact levels of physical activity, pride and place, social mobility and inclusion".
CEO Jon Dutton said: "Major events have played a transformational role in growing the profile of our sport and helping us to take the success of our country’s best riders into the communities and homes of millions. Today we are pleased to share a renewed vision for our organisation which reflects the full breadth of our disciplines and places social impact at its very heart.
"We know just how important our men's and women's national tours are to our riders, teams and the national cycling culture. We have acted quickly to safeguard their place on the calendar in 2024, and have bold, long-term ambitions to grow their stature, reach and commercial proposition over the years ahead.
"While we don't underestimate the challenge in front of us, we've been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received to date. We will continue to work hand-in-hand with our partners, the cycling community and businesses to create a sustainable future for our sport, extend our impact in communities, and ensure that the success of our riders across the world is matched by a thriving and diverse portfolio of major events at home."
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.