Wout van Aert and Visma-Lease a Bike left out of pocket by Tour of Britain organiser's collapse

Prize money for 2023 race unpaid, riders union says national federation must ‘bear the debts’ of previous organiser, SweetSpot

Wout van Aert
Van Aert on the way to winning stage five of last year's race in Felixstowe
(Image credit: © SWpix.com)

Wout van Aert, winner of the 2023 Tour of Britain, is one of many riders left out of pocket by the collapse of the former race promoter, SweetSpot. 

Multiple sources recently informed Cycling Weekly that the 2023 prize money was not likely to be paid after SweetSpot entered liquidation in January

The Tour of Britain's 2023 regulations page claims "a total of €113,080 will be awarded in prize money at the event." 

Adam Hansen, the president of the CPA riders’ union, told Cycling Weekly that the CPA has now received a letter from the corporate recovery firm handling the liquidation all but confirming that the riders’ union - which would usually distribute the prize money - is owed funds.

The CPA claims that if the liquidator is unable to pay the prize money, British Cycling must pay the missing funds under UCI regulations. 

In a statement released to Cycling Weekly, Hansen emphasised the CPA’s commitment to ensuring that the prize money for the event is eventually paid. 

He said: “The CPA is well aware of the situation and has already started the process of going after the prize money funds. 

“If there is not enough money left to pay after the liquidation process, it means that the national federation will have to bear the debts of the previous organisers under UCI regulations. 

“So, one way or another, eventually, the riders will get their prize money if the race continues in 2024.” 

On behalf of the riders, the CPA collects and distributes prize money from a multitude of races on the UCI calendar. 

British Cycling announced last week that it intends to run two races, a Tour of Britain men and Tour of Britain Women, in-house after the collapse of SweetSpot. The national federation removed the licence for the men’s race from the former promoter last year over an unpaid licence fee of £700,000 which eventually resulted in a legal dispute. 

SweetSpot had endured months of financial instability and a raft of further creditors had emerged, including the police. 

Speaking to press in Manchester last week, including Cycling Weekly, British Cycling CEO Jon Dutton acknowledged the situation surrounding prize money and said that it was one of many “legacy issues” that the governing body had inherited. 

“We're aware of it,” Dutton said. “We were recently made aware of it and it forms part of a number of legacy issues that we've inherited.”

When asked if he felt the uncertainty surrounding the races could impact teams willingness to participate, Dutton was clear that British Cycling is fully committed to rebuilding relationships affected by the chaotic situation surrounding SweetSpot. 

“This for us, is about growing confidence and credibility amongst teams. It's about building relationships,” he added. “We will work through all of the different challenges that have been thrown at us and find solutions. 

“We know that we've got a big job to do in terms of our own credibility and that will come from gaining momentum from whatever we say, backing that up with our actions, and forming those relationships.”

Some teams that raced last year’s Tour of Britain are clients of a company based in the Netherlands, the Cycling Service, which collects prize money on their behalf. This includes Visma-Lease A Bike, the team of the race winner Van Aert. 

John Van Den Akker, a Dutch former professional and manager of the Cycling Service, echoed the CPA’s sentiment and insisted that British Cycling would need to pay the outstanding prize money. 

“Due to the UCI rules I think the national federation needs to confirm that the prize money will be paid,” he said. “I think for the UCI it's difficult now because they cannot allow a licence for 2024, first the prize money for 2023 should be solved. It’s a difficult situation and the national federation and UCI need to find a solution.” 

It’s understood that a variety of teams, including Visma-Lease A Bike, could skip the Tour of Britain until the picture around the race becomes clearer. Despite British Cycling emphasising its commitment to the race, it still lacks stage information, a route and other important details.  

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