The Isle of Wight is set to host the finale of an international sporting spectacle — promising a multi-million pound boost to the local economy.
Isle of Wight Council leader, Dave Stewart, signed the agreement on Saturday (4th July) that will bring Britain’s biggest cycle race, the Tour of Britain, to our shores in September 2022.
To mark the occasion, a team of eight cyclists set off from Ryde on ‘The Great Tour’ — a 6,700km, 64-day cycle ride around the coast of Britain raising money for a variety of health charities.
Among the riders were Tour of Britain managing director, Hugh Roberts, former professional cyclist Pippa York and singer, songwriter and producer, Andrew Ridgeley, of Wham! fame.
Councillor Stewart said: “Securing the Tour of Britain is a major coup for the Island and just what is needed to help boost the local economy after the devastating impact of coronavirus.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the stunning landscapes of the Island to an international audience, attracting spectators locally and from afar to enjoy world-class cycling.
“This event will support our economy through hotel stays or spending money in local shops and businesses.
“Just as the Isle of Wight is synonymous with sailing, so too I hope we can become a mecca for all things cycling with Tour of Britain and other exciting cycling events in the pipeline.”
The tour regularly attracts the world’s top cyclists, including Olympic and world champions and Tour de France winners, who compete over eight days each September in the UCI ProSeries event.
A single stage can attract upwards of 150,000 spectators and generate the equivalent of £1.2 million in free advertising with free to air live TV coverage on ITV4 and Eurosport in the UK and around the world.
Organisers, SweetSpot, and the council are also jointly exploring other opportunities in cycling for 2021 as a build up to September 2022 when the Island will become the focus of the cycling world.
Stephen Park, performance director for the Great Britain Cycling Team said: “The Isle of Wight is well known for its sailing heritage and it’s also a brilliant place to ride a bike thanks to the unique and distinctive coastline and scenery, so I know the stage will be a landmark event in 2022’s sporting summer.
“While we will all miss watching this year’s Tour of Britain, it is great to see the organisers break new ground with a first trip to the Island.”
The Island is no stranger to hosting cycle races — the pro-am, cross-Europe Sealink International stage race (1983), the Isle of Wight Classic (1985) and the Tour Series (2015) have all taken place — although 2022’s tour stage will be the biggest sporting event ever to take place on its roads.
With its mix of stunning landscapes and gruelling terrain, Councillor Wayne Whittle, Cabinet member for regeneration and business development, said the Island would provide a spectacular finale to the tour.
He said: “The Tour Series was a huge success when it came to Ryde four years ago and the Tour of Britain promises to be even bigger and involve the whole Island.
“Estimates from other councils staging similar stages have shown up to a 40 per cent increase in visitor numbers and a £4 million economic boost to their local economy.
“Add to this the legacy of support for our Island’s cycling ambitions and it really is good news at a time we need it most.”
To give some scale to the event, the organisers will provide more than 40 motorcycle outriders to ensure safe rolling road closures for the event convoy. The cyclists are internationally recognised professionals and together with their individual support teams will themselves require up to 400 bed spaces.
Holding the final stage of the event is expected to cost about £340,000.
The council said it hoped to meet most of the cost through sponsorship and had already agreed to appoint a third party to secure the funding.
Councillor Whittle added: “This is a brilliant opportunity for local businesses and organisations to get their name out there as part of Britain’s premier road cycling event and we will be working with them to maximise the local, national and international exposure this event can create.”