Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain in September could force the Tour of Britain organisers to change plans for the London stage of the race, Cycling Weekly understands.

It will be the first papal visit to Britain since 1982 and although dates have not been publicly announced, the Tour of Britain’s organisers have been in liaision with officials in recent weeks because there is likely to be a clash.

CW understands that the organisers have been told that police and security services will not allow another major spectator event to take place in the capital at the same time as the Pope’s visit.

The Tour of Britain, which starts on September 11, was due to finish with what has become the traditional circuit race in London on Saturday, September 18. In recent years the showpiece stage, passing some of the capitals iconic landmarks, has attracted huge crowds.

But the race organisers are now looking at a number of alternatives, working closely with Transport for London, to find a suitable course should they be told their preferred circuit right in the heart of London is a non-starter. One of the alternatives for the criterium stage that will be considered is in Richmond Park.

Craig Brophy, a spokesman for the Tour of Britain organisers, said: “We have been aware of the situation for a while. We are in discussions with our partner, Transport for London, with reference to Saturday, September 18. As soon as we’ve concluded those discussions, we’ll be announcing stage eight and its location at the Tour of Britain launching on April 20.”

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  • Manni

    I agree, Richmond Park would actually be a great crit circuit… hell, I’d also send ’em out Ham Gate up the A307 into Richmond and up Richmond Hill back into the park for added measure… it’d make for proper, technical racing on the last day… and the added danger of wayward stags taking out unwary members of the peloton would spice things up further… but isn’t there a zealously-enforced 20mph speed limit in the park?

  • Neil Buckley

    Get the final back to Liverpool!!!!!! it was fantastic there great atomsphere there, why should London have the start and finish! or around the walls of Chester, the Tour Series was fantastic there….

  • Paul G.

    Maybe he could use the ‘pope-mobile’ as the neutral support car?

  • Christian Ward

    Surely moving the vicar of rome to Richmond Park is more acceptable?

  • Ken Evans

    Isn’t God a cyclist then ?

  • Phil Ward

    Running a crit. style stage in Richmond Park would be so cool – its a great idea, 6 mile laps with enough short sharp climbs and corners to make it interesting. Gets my vote over the City centre any day.

  • James Pellatt

    It will be really sad if the Pope’s visit affects the London stage of the ToB. The add on events to make London cycle friendly were a huge success last year, to do the same around Richmond Park isn’t quite the same (although it will be a better stage race I think).

    Surely whoever booked first gets priority.