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Tour of Britain race hopes it can still go ahead

Tour of Britain race hopes it can still go ahead

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 2:56pm 20th April 2020. (Updated at 11:16am 21st April 2020)

Written by Daniel Clark, Local Democracy Reporter

Organisers of the Tour of Britain are still hopeful that the 2020 race can go ahead as scheduled in September.

The eight day cycle race is set to begin in Cornwall on September 6 with a stage between Penzance and Bodmin, before the second stage, the following day, would run between Sherford and Exeter.

Last week, the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, released a revised 2020 season calendar which would, coronavirus permitting, see the 107th Tour de France will now run from August 29 to September 20 and clash directly with the UK race.

But Hugh Roberts, CEO of promoter SweetSpot, said that the new dates for the Tour de France don’t affect their plans and they are cautiously continuing to plan for the race taking place.

“There are no plans to change the date for the Tour of Britain. We are still working towards putting the race on in September but are mindful that this will only be possible if the wider situation allows us to.

“We have to continue with our planning. If everything returned to somewhere close to normal by September, and we weren’t planning for it now, we wouldn’t be able to put it on at all.

“We have in our minds’ eye the third week of July – if we weren’t in a clearer position by then we would have to seriously consider our options, one of which would be to not run it at all. Postponing is not really an option. But for the moment we are continuing to plan for September.”

             Hugh Roberts, CEO of promoter SweetSpot

Mr Roberts, in a statement sent to Cyclingnews, said that he would be pleasantly surprised if the Tour de France took place, but that if it did, then it was almost certain that the Tour of Britain would be able to be held as normal.

He added: “The stance we are adopting is that if the virus is behind us and if that happens to coincide with the Tour of Britain, it will bring a lot of joy to a lot of people. We are working and looking ahead as usual.

“We have always had a scheduling conflict with the Vuelta, but that hasn’t really been a problem and a lot of riders have used the Tour of Britain as prep for the Worlds. I’m not saying that the field won’t be affected by the Tour, but we will get some big teams and we will get some big names.”

One potential issue with the clash of dates could be TV coverage, given both races are broadcast live on ITV4, but Roberts said that SweetSpot have been “working closely with ITV” to resolve this.

In the statement to Cyclingnews, he added: “In fact, it might mean that there’s a feast of cycling on live each day, plus there will be highlights of both races each evening.”

Mr Roberts also said that it would be difficult for the race to be held ‘behind closed doors’, as you can’t run a race in lockdown situations, and that while you can prevent people travelling to watch the race, you can’t prevent people standing on their doorstep if the race is going past.”

He added: “We will follow all public health and government guidance and err on the side of caution.”

Stage 1 of the Tour of Britain is set to see riders travel 170 kilometres through the Cornish countryside, starting in Penzance and ending in Bodmin.

The stage’s route will also visit St Just, St Ives, Hayle, Camborne, Pool, Redruth, Falmouth, Penryn, Truro, Newquay and St Austell, in what would be the race’s first ever visit to Cornwall.

Stage 2 will run between Sherford and Exeter, although the exact details of the route have not yet been confirmed.

Cllr Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for cycling, previously said:

“With the Tour starting in our neighbouring county of Cornwall, it should be another spectacular Tour for our county.

"To give the riders and spectators two days in our region by racing through Devon as well as Cornwall has the potential for a big economic boost for our region and it’s always a great opportunity to showcase Devon as a premier destination for cycling tourism.”

The eighth and final stage will run between Stonehaven and Aberdeen, with no detail for the other five stages having yet been publicised.

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