The future of the Tour of Britain men’s race is uncertain due to a disagreement with the race’s promoter.
British Cycling has ended its partnership with SweetSpot, the organizer of the men’s Tour of Britain, due to a disagreement over unpaid fees. This has put the future of the tour in jeopardy.
The conclusion of the agreement between British Cycling and SweetSpot results in the potential cancellation of the race unless a new promoter is secured soon. This could also lead to the race being excluded from the schedules of top riders and teams in 2024.
A memo was sent by the governing body of British Cycling to all staff, stating that they have decided to end their agreement due to the non-payment of agreed rights fees. A statement was released on Tuesday confirming this decision. British Cycling holds the rights to the Tour of Britain and in 2019, SweetSpot won a 10-year contract until 2029. It has been reported by The Guardian that SweetSpot owes £700,000 in unpaid instalments dating back to 2022. SweetSpot has not commented on the amount or details of the dispute, and is currently being discussed by legal teams from both parties.
“The agreed rights fee form a significant part of British Cycling’s earned income,” the memo, leaked to cyclingweekly.com stated, adding that “the current situation is untenable, with a clear financial impact on our organisation and our ability to invest in the growth of the sport.”
The memorandum stated that British Cycling is currently working towards making sure that the (men’s) Tour of Britain in 2024 is delivered successfully.
Although Hugh Roberts, the CEO of SweetSpot’s Tour of Britain, spoke on Tuesday morning and stated that the race organisers were fully committed to planning for the 2024 event.
“The Guardian was informed by Roberts that discussions have been very optimistic, specifically in regards to the Women’s Tour, involving multiple parties.”
Lawyers on both sides are handling the dispute, but there has been no legal action taken yet. Roberts expressed hope that the issues with British Cycling can be resolved and their differences can be settled.
In the previous year, both the men’s and women’s races have encountered financial challenges. British Cycling does not possess the rights to the Women’s Tour (of Britain), however, SweetSpot has stated that the cancellation of the 2023 race was due to higher expenses and a decrease in commercial backing.
The Tour Series, a series of criterium races organized by SweetSpot, has been canceled for 2023 due to the promoter citing “broader economic difficulties.”
There was also uncertainty surrounding the men’s Tour of Britain, but the race did end up taking place on a smaller scale. However, it faced criticism for its lack of challenging routes. The race’s director, Mick Bennett, defended the race’s quality by stating, “They fail to see the larger context that we have to navigate.”
Insiders at British Cycling also mentioned the strain on the organization’s financial resources, following reports in late October of declining membership and reduced income leading to a round of layoffs.
“It is evident that the current state of the global economy and rising living expenses have greatly hindered our efforts to recruit new members and attract commercial investments,” stated Jon Dutton, CEO of British Cycling.