Rising attendance and growing media coverage are strong signs of an escalating interest in cycling, says organiser

Pope fails to dent Tour of Britain popularity

Over one million roadside spectators watched the Tour of Britain this year, making the event the most successful yet, according to event organiser Sweet Spot Group.

The 2010 Tour, which took in Blackpool, Swansea, Colchester and London among others, saw a 32 per cent rise in TV viewers, with 401,000 tuning in to ITV4’s daily highlights. The official website also bested last year’s performance, with over 1.5 million page views during the eight day race.

The improved coverage, interest and rising attendance are all signs of the public taking cycling to its heart, according to ToB PR manager Peter Hodges.

He told BikeBiz: “It’s a definite sign that cycling in general is growing in popularity, and in particular as a sport. The huge crowds we saw in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex in particular testify that there is an appetite for professional cycle races in this country, whether from casual fans of the sport or the more ‘hardcore’ cycling fans. It’s very encouraging for us that despite poor weather conditions during certain stages we still had a great turn out at the roadside.”

Media focus
The event managed to gain column inches, despite going up against the Pope’s UK visit and cricket’s betting allegations.

“National newspapers like The Guardian, Independent and The Daily Telegraph in particular are very loyal supporters of the race, even though we were battling against a week that had several major national stories, from the Pope’s visit to the likes of Champions League football midweek, plus a couple of major cricketing stories. The sports pages of the national papers are a very competitive segment, but we feel we more than held our own there, and certainly the tough and exciting nature of the race helped.”

Regional papers upped their coverage too, said Hodges.
“We get more and more school children and casual fans watching The Tour each year, so hopefully those spectators are then going off and watching at other cycle events and going out on their bikes, whether for fun, or commuting or maybe taking up racing. A big aim of The Tour and The Halfords Tour Series is to encourage people onto bikes, for all of the above reasons.”

Next year the Tour’s Grand Depart returns to Scotland.

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