The UCI today announced that the 2014 edition of the Tour of Britain has been awarded hors catégorie status, the second-highest ranking possible for professional men's events.
As a result, the race now sits alongside the likes of the Critérium International, the Tours of Qatar, Oman and California, and the Four Days of Dunkirk in its stature.
Having been run under the 2.1 ranking for the previous eight editions, today’s upgraded status will mean that organiser SweetSpot will be able to invite additional WorldTour teams to the race. Up to 70 per cent of the field can now come from the sport’s top tier of squads, as opposed to 50 per cent previously.
Interest is likely to be high among these teams, particularly since the race will take place one week earlier this year (September 7-14) to avoid a clash with the World Team Time Trial Championships.
For the past two years, the staging of the Worlds TTT on the final day of Britain’s national tour has resulted in top teams skipping the latter. Most notably, Rabobank did not ride the 2012 edition despite having the then defending champion Lars Boom on its roster, and Orica-GreenEdge opted to focus on the Worlds TTT in 2013.
Last year’s race saw Movistar and Sky, the top two-ranked teams, compete, and Katusha (third in the 2013 world rankings) are known to be interested in riding the 2014 edition.
Britain’s five UCI-ranked domestic squads will also be eligible for selection, as will a Great British national team, for whom Simon Yates won a stage for in the 2013 race. However, with the demand from WorldTour and ProContinental teams likely to be greater given the increased prize fund and additional ranking points on offer, a fierce selection battle between the home teams could be likely.
Achieving HC status was one of the key targets of the new agreement with organiser SweetSpot, when the latest five-year delivery agreement was made with British Cycling last July.
Race director Mick Bennett said of the news: “We are delighted by today’s announcement, which comes as a culmination of ten year’s hard work by the SweetSpot team.
“The award of 2.HC status is another step forward for The Tour of Britain, and we look forward to this September’s edition of the race being the best yet.
“The upgrade is also a reward for the many hundreds of thousands of spectators who have lined the route and cheered on the race over the past decade.”
Reacting to the announcement, British Cycling’s Cycle Sport and Membership director, Jonny Clay said: “Credit must be given to SweetSpot for their stewardship of the race to date and we look forward to working with them over the next five years to continue the growth of the event as both a monument of the sport and as a British sporting success.”
Further details of the 2014 Tour of Britain will be announced at the race’s national launch in the spring, although Cycling Weekly understands a stage around East Sussex could feature.
The UCI announced last year that the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic, also organised by SweetSpot, will run in 2014 as an HC event.