Tour of Britain and Women's Tour future guaranteed by British Cycling, but women's race in doubt for 2024

National federation committed to ensuring men's and women’s races take place this year but CEO admits it is in a ‘race against the clock’ to put on women's event

Stevie Williams and Carlos Rodriguez
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The men’s Tour of Britain will happen in 2024, with British Cycling taking over both it and the Women's Tour, but the organisation is in a race against time to ensure a women’s race can take place this year. 

The governing body said on Thursday that it had been given a green light by the UCI to progress plans to stage the men’s race in its usual September calendar slot. 

However, BC’s CEO Jon Dutton and Jonathan Day - managing director of British Cycling Events - told selected media in Manchester, including Cycling Weekly, that the short time frame has meant that a planned women’s stage race may need to be shorter than intended this June. 

Dutton labelled both races as the “jewel in the crown” of the domestic calendar. 

“There's still some work to do,” Dutton said. “But the UCI calendar has been published with the Tour of Britain for women in its June date and the Tour of Britain for men in its September date. 

“We're quite excited about the Tour of Britain for men on that September date and the ability to hopefully see some star names turn up in preparation for the World Championships. 

“We've still got a lot of work to do on the Tour of Britain Women, and it is a race against the clock in terms of those June dates, there may have to be some compromises from what has happened before in terms of duration.” 

Last November, British Cycling removed the Tour of Britain race licence from its former organiser due to a dispute that arose over an unpaid licence fee of £700,000. SweetSpot, who also ran the Women’s Tour, eventually entered liquidation in January. This week, both the Tour of Britain and Women's Tour were removed from the UCI's calendar, but they are expected to return.

Under Day’s leadership, British Cycling Events will now be responsible for staging the two in-house events - the Tour of Britain Men and Tour of Britain Women - moving forward. 

It's understood that British Cycling is working closely with multiple interested local authorities and will present details regarding proposed routes for both races in due course. 

Dutton acknowledged the heavy financial burden of running road races in the UK but said that the organisation was open to potential collaboration on what he described as “multi-million pound” races with both potential sponsors and other race organisers. This included working with the organiser of Britain’s other major female stage race. 

He said: “Ride London is a fantastic race and London Marathon Events have done an absolutely incredible job. 

“We are very open to how we move forward in delivering sustainable cycling events. That might mean collaboration, it might mean co-creation, we're completely open to that, our focus is on ensuring we do everything we can in 2024 but then it’s about growth from 25 onwards. So we're really open to that in the future.”

Dutton reiterated his confidence in the major events team headed up by Day and said that every effort would be made to enable a women’s race in some form to take place in June. 

“We've got a high level of determination to succeed,” he said. “We are in a race against the clock so every day counts. We've done an immense amount of work, and we do have some of the pieces in place, we need to finish the rest of it but have the level of confidence that we can deliver a safe race, that it gives a great rider experience and also is financially sustainable.”

“With the Tour of Britain men, we obviously have more time,” he added. “We've done an immense amount of work and it will be an eight stage race, obviously there is more complexity, but we have a level of confidence that we're able to deliver that and protect the races because it's so important. 

“The bigger opportunity is 2025 onwards, and it is fair to say in terms of our ambition, we already have half an eye on 25 and onwards in terms of what the races might look like.

“I think what we can say, at this point in time, is that we do not think it will be a six stage race for the Tour of Britain Women [this year] but we're doing everything we can to make sure it's a high quality racing experience. So that's not just about the number of stages, it's about the terrain, the geography, topography, start and finish, and also delivering it economically.”

Day also told the media that British Cycling would be open to the possibility of the Tour of Britain men moving to become a WorldTour event in the future. The Women's Tour was previously part of the WorldTour calendar whereas the men's race is currently a part of the UCI Pro Series. 

He said: "I think it's something we'd be super interested in, absolutely. I think we're expecting to see some reform in terms of the International calendar in probably the not too distant future. So we'll be keeping a close eye on that. 

"Then we will obviously be liaising with the UCI and building that relationship up in terms of what that could mean for these events going forward. So I think we're really open minded about it. But if it's right for the events and right for the sport then absolutely."

While this good news for the top tier of UK bike racing was announced on Friday, the Tour of the Reservoir will not be happening in 2024, cutting the number of National Road Series events from six to five for the open category, and seven to six for women.

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