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Women’s Tour still looking to fill funding gap for live coverage

SOUTHEND ENGLAND OCTOBER 07 LR Sarah Roy of Australia and Team BikeExchange Marjolein Van T Geloof of Netherlands and Team DropsLe Col Supported By Tempur Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz of Spain and Movistar Team Martina Alzini of Italy and Team Valcar Travel Service Lorena Wiebes of Netherlands and Team DSM and Chloe Hosking of Australia and Team Trek Segafredo sprint at finish line during the 7th The Womens Tour 2021 Stage 4 a 1178km stage from Shoeburyness to SouthendonSea thewomenstour UCIWWT on October 07 2021 in Southend England Photo by Justin SetterfieldGetty Images
The Women's Tour stage 4 sprint finish in 2021 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

SweetSpot, the organisers of the Women’s Tour, are seeking to raise a minimum of £75,000 from prospective sponsors towards the costs of the first-ever live broadcast of the event.

Despite holding discussions with potential partners over the past year, there is still a funding shortfall because a title sponsor for the Women’s Tour, which is held in June, has yet to be secured.

“We’re very hopeful [that we will secure sponsorship] but we want to make potential partners aware of the opportunity that’s available here, one that would see a brand forever be known for helping us deliver our first-ever live broadcast,” a Women’s Tour spokesperson said.

Broadcasting a race increases costs by approximately 20 per cent, SweetSpot explained, and that cost comes at a time when the organisers’ finances are still recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Women's Tour was cancelled in 2020 and postponed till later in the year in 2021.

Historically, the race has shown nightly highlights shows, broadcast via ITV in the UK and Eurosport and GCN around the world.

“We know from the historical TV audience data that we have for our nightly highlights shows, as well as our digital footprint, that people are extremely interested in the event, so the platform for great brand exposure is there,” the spokesperson continued.

Since the 2020 season, the UCI have demanded that a race must provide at least 45 minutes of live coverage in order to qualify for WorldTour status. If they fail to do so, they could lose WorldTour status for future editions of the race.

“This is a matter for the UCI but we’re fully aware of the need to comply with the UCI Women’s WorldTour regulations,” the spokesperson replied when asked if the race could lose its WorldTour status.

Live television pictures were originally planned for the 2021 edition of the race. In February 2021, the race organisers announced their commitment to deliver live coverage of The Women’s Tour as part of a five-year deal with Eurosport and the Global Cycling Network (GCN), but a week before the event said this would not be possible due to the impact of “commercial realities.”

The eighth edition of the Women’s Tour will begin on June 6 in Colchester, featuring ‘the toughest summit finish’ in the race’s history on stage 5 atop Black Mountain. It will finish in Oxford’s historic city centre on June 11th. 

All 14 Women’s WorldTour teams will form part of the largest start list in event history to date, competing for an overall win that has been claimed by riders such as Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma), Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) and Demi Vollering (SD Worx) in recent years.

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Issy Ronald has just graduated from the London School of Economics where she studied for an undergraduate and masters degree in History and International Relations. Since doing an internship at Procycling magazine, she has written reports for races like the Tour of Britain, Bretagne Classic and World Championships, as well as news items, recaps of the general classification at the Grand Tours and some features for Cyclingnews. Away from cycling, she enjoys reading, attempting to bake, going to the theatre and watching a probably unhealthy amount of live sport.