The Tour of Britain is facing a search for a title sponsor as Aviva has decided to discontinue its backing of the race and its associated events.
Race organisers SweetSpot confirmed that the British insurance company will pull out after the Women’s Tour this June, leaving this year’s Tour of Britain, set to take place in early September, without a sponsor for the time being.
Aviva took over title sponsorship of the UK's biggest stage race and its women's counterpart in April 2015 after their acquisition of previous backers Friends Life. They also supported SweetSpot’s mass participation events, the Tour Ride and the London Cycle.
“We have enjoyed an excellent partnership with Aviva, and before them Friends Life, that has seen both events go from strength-to-strength and reach more people at the roadside and around the world on television than ever before,” said SweetSpot’s chief executive Hugh Roberts in a statement.
“An exciting opportunity now exists for a new title sponsor to partner with us and take Britain’s premier men’s road cycling event to a new level. The future of cycling is bright and this year promises to be tremendous with the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics and the launch of the UCI’s Women’s World Tour.
“The Tour of Britain and The Women’s Tour are iconic British sporting events with global reach offering and an unparalleled platform for our sponsors. We are confident that the proposition is extremely attractive for potential partners committed to growing these world-class events going forwards.”
The Tour of Britain was re-launched in 2004 and has grown in stature in recent years, being upgraded from 2.1 to HC status by the UCI in 2014. It has been seen as an alternative to the Vuelta a España for riders preparing for the annual World Championships, and the 2015 edition, won by Edvald Boasson Hagen, was watched roadside by more than 1.2 million spectators and was broadcast in over 130 countries.
The Women's Tour has been a successful addition to the professional calendar since its inception in 2014, and will form part of the new UCI Women's WorldTour next year.
“We are proud of the contribution that we have made to cycling in the UK with our sponsorship of the Women’s Tour and the Tour of Britain and it has been an honour to play a part in developing these fantastic events," said Aviva's marketing director Lindsay Forster, adding that they would continue backing community-based projects in the UK. "We wish SweetSpot the best of luck for the future.”
The 2016 edition of the Tour of Britain will take place from September 4-11, while the Women's Tour will run from June 15-19. The routes for both races will be unveiled early next month.