Tour of Britain's TV audience grew by a third, global viewers top 16 million, in 'thrilling' 2021 comeback

More than two and a half million people tuned in to watch the star-studded race making its return following Covid disruption

Tour of Britain 2021 Wout van Aert and Julian Alaphilippe
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Tour of Britain has announcedits TV viewing figures have gone up by over 30 per cent as the race returned after its year out due to Covid-19.

It was a very hard run race that attracted some of the world's best riders, including world champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) and Belgian champion and eventual winner, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma). 

Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) continued his amazing season too, giving home fans something to cheer with two stage wins and second overall behind Van Aert after losing the lead of the race on the final stage into Aberdeen.

Race organisers announced that 2.6 million people tuned in to watch the racing in the UK with most using ITV4 as well as Eurosport GCN, while there were an extra one million fans on the roadside cheering on the riders in person.

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Hugh Roberts, chairman of race organiser SweetSpot, said: "We are absolutely delighted with the TV audience results from this year’s AJ Bell Tour of Britain. We are thankful to have such loyal support from our broadcast partners, most notably ITV and Eurosport, as well as our fans all over the world.

"Being able to run such a thrilling race, one that stretched from Cornwall to Aberdeen, in September was a privilege after what has been the most challenging years for everyone involved in the events business. We are now looking to build upon this for the 2022 race next September."

The global total for viewers was 15.9 million people as the big names surely attracted more people to watch as the race lead was passed around between Van Aert, Hayter and Robin Carpenter (Rally) who won the second stage into Exeter from that day's breakaway.

Over the course of the race, the Tour of Britain had 1,787 hours of coverage globally creating £48.3 million of net sponsorship value for partners, according to an analysis by YouGov Sport.

This is good news for British racing after the Tour de Yorkshire was announced to not be taking place in 2022 due to a lack of funding after three years away from the calendar.

The 2022 Tour of Britain is set to take place between September 4 and 11 with the race starting where it finished this year, in Aberdeen, before winding its way down to finish with a stage on the Isle of Wight.

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.