Organisers of the Tour of Britain (2.HC) and Women’s Tour (Women's WorldTour) announced that OVO Energy will end its title sponsorship of the events and that they are searching for a new leading financial backer. SweetSpot and British Cycling have committed to running the events for another 10 years and are looking for a title brand that aligns with those longterm plans.
"This year marked a landmark year in our history: 15 years since the rebirth of the Tour of Britain, the 10th anniversary of the Tour Series and an expanded Women’s Tour to mark its fifth year. All three events headline the British cycling calendar and will no doubt continue to do so over the next decade as we work with partners, stakeholders, teams, riders and fans to inspire the next generation," said Hugh Roberts, CEO of SweetSpot.
"We thank OVO Energy for their support of the events and look forward to beginning new chapters in the already illustrious histories of the Tour of Britain, Women’s Tour and Tour Series in 2020 and beyond."
OVO Energy sponsored a stage of the Tour of Britain during the 2016 edition and then became title sponsor of the race in 2017. The leading financial sponsorship has covered the Tour of Britain, Women’s Tour and the Tour series through the end of this year.
The current version of the Tour of Britain began in 2004 and then became a 2.HC-sanctioned event in 2014 through this year. Recent overall winners include Dylan van Baarle (2014), Edvald Boasson Hagen (2015), Steve Cummings (2016), Lars Boom (2017) and Julian Alaphilippe (2018). Mathieu van der Poel won this year’s race in September.
The Women’s Tour women’s race debuted in 2014 as a 2.1 event but quickly rose to the top-level of professional bike racing when it joined the Women’s WorldTour in 2016. When OVO Energy took over as title sponsor the following year, the event became one of the most attractive races of the series. In 2018, OVO Energy brought parity to the Women’s Tour prize fund to that of the Tour of Britain. The peloton competed for €97,880 in 2019. The race also expanded to six stages.
Previous winners of the Women’s Tour include Marianne Vos (2014), Lisa Brennauer (2015), Katarzyna Niewiadoma (2017), Coryn Rivera (2018) and Lizzie Deignan (2016 and 2019).
"We are proud of the contribution we’ve made through our sponsorship, helping fans across the country see the world’s best riders competing on their doorsteps and inspiring a whole new generation to get on their bikes," said Sarah Booth, brand and communications director for OVO Energy.
"Our most meaningful legacy is taking a step towards gender parity in cycling by increasing the Women’s Tour prize fund, helping to provide an equal platform on the world cycling stage."
The OVO Energy Women’s Tour was the 13th stop on the Women’s WorldTour this year. The series ended at the Tour of Guangxi, which saw Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) win the overall series title in October.
The UCI announced the 2020 Women’s WorldTour earlier this year, whereby Emakumeen Bira was noticeably absent from it’s May spot on the calendar. Organisers of the long-running Spanish stage race cited "economic issues and fatigue of the organizers" as the reason the event was cancelled for next year.
Another blow to the 2020 Women’s WorldTour calendar happened when AEG announced that it would put the Tour of California men’s and women’s race on hiatus next year, as they try to come up with a more suitable model with which to run the events. That leaves the May slot on the Women’s WorldTour without any stage races.
In addition, the Prudential RideLondon Classique was left off the Women's WorldTour due to calendar conflicts with the Ladies Tour of Norway.
The OVO Energy Women’s Tour is schedule to take place from June 8-13, while the 2.Pro men’s race is expected to take place from September 6-13.
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.
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