British Cycling, rights holder for the Tour of Britain professional cycling race, has announced that the running of the annual event is to be put out to an open tender. The organisation deal will start with the 2014 event.
Since its reinstatement on the calendar in 2004, the Tour of Britain has been delivered by sports marketing and events company Sweetspot.
British Cycling’s president, Brian Cookson, said:
“It’s important that we take a fresh look at how the Tour of Britain can deliver continued growth and profile for the sport.
“Sweetspot has nurtured and developed the event over recent years but the time is now right to assess all options. Most crucially, we want to assure our current and future members and all cycling fans that we will have their interests at heart throughout this process.”
British Cycling’s existing contract with Sweetspot will continue throughout next year, including the delivery of the event in September 2013.
The invitation to tender will officially be launched in January, although expressions of interest can be made now. The tendering process will be managed on behalf of British Cycling by The Sports Consultancy.
A statement from Sweetspot said there was "surprise and disappointment" at the decision to put the Tour out to tender.
"SweetSpot fully intend to participate in this process, and retain the right to organise and promote Britain’s biggest professional road race from 2014 onwards, especially given the continued growth and unparalled success of the event under their ten-year stewardship.
"In order to protect the interests of cycling fans across the UK, SweetSpot initiated the revival of The Tour in 2004 and they based their plans on a sustainable model to insulate the event from the vagaries of the sponsorship marketplace. This action has been vindicated by the consistent growth and increased profile of the event, despite having to endure one of the worst recessions in living memory.
"The SweetSpot team would like to state its continued commitment, investment and passion for organising and promoting national and international cycling events, and look forward to announcing details of the 2013 Tour of Britain and Tour Series early in the New Year."