It's taken weeks and weeks for the various stakeholders to cross the t's and dot the i's but, finally, here's the first confirmation that the Tour of Britain will take to the roads this September. And it'll be broadcast by the beeb, too...

Tour of Britain is confirmed at last

The Tour of Britain, featuring sixteen teams, will take place 1st-5th September, just a few weeks after the Olympics, and has been granted elite status (Category 2.3) by the UCI.

The organisation responsible for reviving the Tour is SweetSpot, a sports marketing and events company, formerly an offshoot of the Carphone Warehouse.

The Tour of Britain used to be known as the Milk Race but the sponsorship package went sour. The Prudential then stumped up cash for the PruTour but this went belly-up five years ago. There has been no national Tour in Britain since then.

Unlike the Milk Race or the Prutour, the new Tour of Britain will have a raft of public and commercial sponsors rather than one, overall sponsor. This is to "ensure longevity and remove the frailty of over dependence on one title sponsor," said Sweetspot.

The stage race – to end in London – has the backing of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Visit Britain and a variety of regional development agencies. Other partners include local authorities, planning, traffic and sport departments, local police forces, emergency services and tourism bodies.

Four million spectators are expected to line the route, precise details of which have yet to be unveiled.

The BBC will broadcast the Tour nationally on Grandstand and via slots on regional networks.

"[The BBC] realises the significance of an event like this and its potential in future years and it is their intention to grow the race in subsequent years by devoting even more time to live broadcasts," said a statement from Sweetspot.

The Tour of Britain would form part of the UCI’s new “Pro Tour”, planned for a kick-off in 2005.

The organising team is led by SweetSpot’s Hugh Roberts and Peter Moore OBE, former CEO of Center Parcs. Mick Bennett, organiser of the Islington Cycle show, will be technical director. Race director will be race stalwart, and president of the UCI Road Commission, Pat McQuaid, and event director will be two times world champion Tony Doyle MBE.

“The Tour of Britain will be one of the most prestigious sporting events that Britain will stage every year for the foreseeable future," said Peter Moore.

"It can count upon a huge residue of goodwill and support and, as a sporting spectacle that tours the country, it has the capacity to reach and influence huge numbers of people on their own doorstep. It ticks all the right boxes for such a wide variety of organisations that have so much to gain from being associated with this world class sporting event."

The first stage is planned to take place in the north west of England and will be followed by a stage in Yorkshire. The third stage will visit cities in the East Midlands and the fourth stage, on Saturday, will be centred on South Wales. The race will end on Sunday with a criterium on the streets of Westminster.

Richard Caborn, Minister for Sport and Tourism, said:

"I am delighted that the Tour of Britain is returning to the sporting calendar after a five year gap. We all know that the Tour de France is an extraordinary national and international event – much more than just a cycle race – and I hope that the British Tour can generate something of the same sort of public enthusiasm, drama and sporting excellence. It can provide so many other benefits too: encouraging people to be more active, promoting tourism and being an event that embraces the whole country – not just one town or city."

Terry Hodgkinson, Chair of Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency for Yorkshire and Humber, said:

“This event is important for Britain and the regions. We feel strongly that such an event will help to showcase the rich cultural and sporting assets of Yorkshire and Humber and that the region’s economy will benefit by accommodating the event and through associated promotion to an international audience of potential visitors and investors.”

Tim Addison, Head of Tourism and the Visitor Economy, London Development Agency, said:

“London is delighted to be a part of this important national event. It will showcase London’s ability to host a world class sporting event in close partnership with our colleagues in the rest of Britain to a global audience. The Tour will also highlight the amazing resources that London has for all tourists and will encourage Londoners to embrace the benefits that such a major event can bring to them."

VisitBritain’s International Marketing Director Kenny Boyle said:

“One of the main stars of the Tour of Britain cycle race will be Britain itself – its magnificent countryside and unique towns and cities which provide such a vivid contrast of the historic and the contemporary. These will all be showcased to a global audience. VisitBritain has been a strong supporter of this event from the outset and we are delighted that so many in the tourism industry have also given their backing. We are confident that the pieces are in place for a major world class event and VisitBritain will be using its network of 31 overseas offices to help promote the Tour of Britain to an even bigger market."

Pat McQuaid said:

“The UCI is very excited by this announcement as Great Britain is a very important market for cycling and this Tour of Britain should act as a superb catalyst for the development of our sport."

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