The future of the Tour of Britain is in serious doubt after British Cycling reportedly withdrew from a deal with race promoter Sweetspot, alleging that the company owes around £700,000 in race licence rights fees.
The dispute means that the UK’s biggest professional bike bike race could be cancelled in 2024, should no new promoter be found in the next few months.
While British Cycling owns the rights to the week-long stage race, Sweetspot has run the Tour of Britain since its revival in 2004, and in 2019 won the rights to do so until 2029.
British Cycling said in a statement issued to Cycling Weekly: “We can confirm that we have terminated our agreement with Sweetspot Group Limited to deliver the Tour of Britain. British Cycling remains fully committed to the delivery of the Tour of Britain in 2024, and will share further details in due course.”
There are concerns within British Cycling that the Tour of Britain rights fee form a significant part of governing body’s earned income” and that the alleged unpaid fees could have a financial impact on the organisation and their ability to invest in the growth of the sport.
British Cycling has apparently revoked the Tour of Britain licence following a squeeze of their own finances just before an Olympic year. In accounts leaked to Cycling Weekly last week, British Cycling reported a loss of £1.3 million in commercial income and a decline in membership of 7%.
British Cycling recently made eleven redundancies after a major staffing restructure, with new CEO Jon Dutton admitting that cycling in Britain is part of the squeezed middle of sports, well below the riches of Premier League football and other major sports.
Both British Cycling and Sweetspot have reportedly instructed lawyers to step in, though Sweetspot’s Tour of Britain CEO Hugh Roberts claimed to the Guardian that he was “optimistic” that the issue can be overcome.
“We are in very positive talks, particularly regarding the Women’s Tour, with numerous stakeholders,” he said. “I am optimistic that the issues with British Cycling can be overcome. We have to resolve our differences.”
The Women’s Tour was cancelled in 2023 due to a lack of sponsorship, while the men’s race once again went ahead without a title sponsor. Another Sweetspot-run cycling event, the Tour Series, was also cancelled in 2023 due to financial…