Exclusive: Former Tour of Britain organiser appoints liquidators placing future of more British races in doubt

SweetSpot said to be facing legal disputes of up to £1 million after race licence revoked by British Cycling last autumn

SweetSpot logo on an advertising board
(Image credit: Swpix.com)

The former organiser of the Tour of Britain, SweetSpot, has entered liquidation after a turbulent few weeks in which legal claims against the firm stacked up totalling almost £1 million. 

KRE corporate recovery confirmed to Cycling Weekly, on Wednesday, that it is handling the liquidation. 

SweetSpot CEO Hugh Roberts later told Cycling Weekly that the firm had entered “voluntary liquidation” and that KRE had been appointed to deal with the company’s creditors.  

SweetSpot recently lost the right to run the Tour of Britain due to an alleged unpaid race licence fee of £700,000Cycling Weekly understands none of this has been paid back. 

As well as the Tour of Britain, SweetSpot also organised the Women's Tour, which is part of the women’s WorldTour calendar, and the Tour Series - a popular round of city centre events targeted by British teams.

The promoter postponed the Women’s Tour in March last year due to funding issues and news of the firm entering liquidation places the future of the race into question. 

Notably SweetSpot owns the Women’s Tour whereas the Tour of Britain is run under licence from British Cycling.

A recent investigation by Cycling Weekly and The Guardian revealed that in November British Cycling revoked SweetSpot’s right to run the Tour of Britain. The investigation revealed that both parties had instructed legal teams to resolve the dispute. 

At the time, SweetSpot’s CEO Hugh Roberts said that he was confident the dispute with British Cycling would be resolved amicably, although he has largely remained silent on the issues facing SweetSpot since. 

"I am optimistic that the issues with British Cycling can be overcome,” Roberts said in November. “We have to resolve our differences."

Wout van Aert

Belgium's Wout van Aert won last year's edition of the race 

(Image credit: © SWpix.com)

As well as the £700,000 said to be owed to British Cycling, Cycling Weekly also recently reported that SweetSpot could be set to face legal action from the Isle of Wight council

Sources told Cycling Weekly that the council is considering action to reclaim up to £350,000 in race hosting fees and additional costs. SweetSpot declined to comment in relation to the allegations from the council.

The Isle of Wight was set to host the final stage of the 2022 edition of the race but the death of the Queen meant that the final three stages were cancelled. 

The council informed Cycling Weekly that it had learned that the island will not host the race in the near future. 

A spokesperson told Cycling Weekly: “We had been in an ongoing dialogue with SweetSpot about a future stage of the Tour and are taking advice on how we might be able to proceed.”

As well as the cancellation of the Women’s Tour this year, SweetSpot staged the Tour of Britain without a headline sponsor as well as several other key partners. The Tour Series also did not take place due to sponsorship difficulties. 

In September during the most recent edition of the Tour of Britain it was also notable that the peloton was considerably smaller than previous years. Race director Mick Bennett told Cycling Weekly in Gloucester that this was due to Brexit amongst other reasons

“It's purely and simply Brexit,” he said.  “Just to give you an example, it took some teams that rode the World Champs five hours to get their vehicles, and technical teams through customs at Dover, and that was only three weeks ago. And they go, 'Hang on. You know what? It's not worth it'. So they didn't, but that's purely and simply down to Brexit.”

Despite the financial issues affecting the company, SweetSpot announced in December that both Roberts and Mick Bennett - race director for both the Tour of Britain and the Women’s Tour - would be stepping down from their work and entering retirement.

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