It’s been confirmed that the Tour of Britain bike race, which was cancelled through Purbeck in autumn 2022 after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, will not be rescheduled in Dorset this year – but there’s ongoing talks to bring it back for 2024.
The route of Stage Seven of the 2022 AJ Bell Tour of Britain had been awarded to Dorset for the first time in the race’s history, and was due to go through Lulworth, Church Knowle, Corfe Castle and Wareham on Saturday 10th September 2022.
Hopes are high that Purbeck will feature in the 2024 Tour of Britain event
Tour of Britain ’22 cut short by Queen’s death
But the final three legs of the 2022 event, in Dorset, Gloucestershire and the Isle of Wight, were cancelled as a sign of respect following the sad death of Her Majesty the Queen and event winners were declared using race results up to the end of stage five.
However, with host cities and counties benefitting to the estimated tune of £3.5 million per race and a boost to tourism following the national television coverage, it had been hoped that disappointed hosts would have been the first to be picked for the 2023 event.
But there’s going to be no need to put out the bunting again in Purbeck, as the routes for most of the 2023 stages were announced at the end of April without any South West locations being included.
The 2022 Tour of Britain was due to take cyclists round Corfe Castle
Hosting a 2023 stage in Dorset was not possible
Now, a spokesperson for the Tour of Britain has admitted:
“Following extensive meetings with Dorset Council, and in light of their planned events programme and commitments for 2023, hosting a stage of the Tour of Britain in the county this year was not possible.
“We remain in discussions with them about the opportunity to take the race to Dorset in 2024.”
He said it had not been an easy decision to cancel the race through Purbeck, especially as some other sporting events were still held following the national day of mourning on Friday 9th September 2022.
In preparation for the race, there had been extensive resurfacing of the roads in Purbeck, with the causeway in Wareham – one of the sprint locations – closed overnight to get the surface suitable for the event.
The safe running of tour events is dependent upon a motorcycle escort group
“No way to keep riders and spectators safe”
“We are sure that all cycling enthusiasts are aware of the sizable police resource that a professional road race uses in order to keep the riders, staff, officials and spectators safe.
“For the AJ Bell Tour of Britain 2022, this amounted to 30 police motorcycle outriders, plus two police command vehicles and then additional local support.
“Those motorcycle outriders are highly specialist officers drawn from many forces around the country and are used extensively for things such as escorting politicians, heads of state and members of the Royal Family.
“There was a pre-determined plan that required the use of police motorcyclists over the period of national mourning, and owing to the withdrawal of many motorcycle officers and the team who manage the Central Escort Group on the race, it was not possible to continue.
“Without the police escort, there was simply no way of managing and implementing the road closures required for the race to keep all of the riders, teams, officials, and spectators safe while on public roads.”
The Tour of Britain is televised daily on Channel 4 and has huge benefits for tourism
No cancelled locations have been reinstated
In recent days, seven of the eight stages of the Tour of Britain have been announced for September 2023, but none of the host areas for stages cancelled in 2022 have been reinstated.
This year’s Tour of Britain begins in Manchester city centre on Sunday 3rd September 2023 before moving to Wrexham in North Wales, Beverly in Yorkshire and a stage through Nottinghamshire on subsequent days.
Felixstowe in Suffolk and Harlow in Essex will also be hosting stages before the Tour finishes in South Wales, with only the location on stage seven still to be announced.
The Women’s World Tour has been cancelled for 2023 due to lack of funds
Women’s World Tour cancelled over funding
The Women’s World Tour, which had also been looking at the possibility of holding a stage in Dorset, will now not take place at all in summer 2023 due to funding problems.
Organisers Sweetspot first cut the number of planned stages from six to five, but warned it needed to find £500,000 in new sponsorship in order to go ahead, even setting up a crowdfunding campaign to try to raise fund.
It had set a deadline of Easter before making a decision, but crowdfunding only raised £18,000 leaving a shortfall of around £400,000.
Sweetspot has now announced that the target is for the race to return for its 10th anniversary in 2024, although it will take place in Wales as part of an agreement with the Welsh government.
- Follow latest developments from the Tour of Britain on its website