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Tour of Britain becomes latest major UK event to fall

The peloton climb Hardens Hill during Stage 2 of the 2019 Tour of Britain (by Ewan Bootman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Tour of Britain has become the latest cycling event hit by Covid-19, with this year’s edition being cancelled and rescheduled for 2021.

SweetSpot Group, which in November struck a 10-year extension to its deal with British Cycling to organise the event it has staged since its revival in 2004, today (Thursday) announced the cancellation of this year’s event, which had been scheduled for September 6-13, following “detailed consultations” with British Cycling, regional stakeholders, sponsors and partners of the race.

The route planned for September 2020, featuring a first ever visit to Cornwall and an overall finish in the city of Aberdeen, will instead take place from September 5-12, 2021, subject to confirmation from the International Cycling Union (UCI).

The UK government on Monday stated that June 1 would be the earliest professional sport could resume in England, even behind closed doors. Tour organisers today said the ongoing situation with Covid-19 made continuing with the planning and organisation of the 2020 race “impractical”.

A statement read: “Across the UK there are significant doubts around the potential to stage large-scale public events and gatherings such as the Tour of Britain as early as September and while any form of social distancing remains in place and there isn’t a vaccine available, people’s health and safety must come first.

“Local authority partners across Britain remain under considerable pressure with their priorities rightly elsewhere and so would not be able to contribute fully to the planning of the event, whilst also not being in a position to maximise the social, economic and community benefits that hosting a stage of the Tour of Britain brings to their area.”

The Tour said it is now working with local authority partners to explore the ways in which the Tour of Britain and its planned venues can still be celebrated this September, adding these plans will be revealed in due course.

The statement added: “Holding the Tour of Britain behind closed doors or with extensive social distancing rules would not only be immensely impractical, but would rob our venues and spectators of these opportunities and go against everything that cycling, as a free-to-spectate and accessible event, stands for.”

SweetSpot had already cancelled the Women’s Tour, originally scheduled for June, as well as the Tour Series in May. Welcome to Yorkshire and the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) have postponed the 2020 Tour de Yorkshire and Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race, meaning the RideLondon-Surrey Classic on August 16 is currently the only major race still scheduled for the UK this summer.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that a revamped 2020 UCI World Tour calendar will include an overlapping of the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España, two of cycling’s ‘Grand Tours’.

The UCI released details of the revised calendars for both the UCI World Tour and UCI Women’s World Tour, following approval from its managing committee and the Professional Cycling Council, the stakeholders of men’s professional road cycling.