COUNCIL chiefs have expressed their disappointment that a national cycling race – which was to see Stratford and Leamington play major roles – has been cancelled after organisers failed to pull together enough funding.
Stratford was set to host the start of The Women’s Tour on Wednesday June 7. Over 100 of the world’s best riders were to have gathered in the town before heading out into the Warwickshire countryside for a day of racing around the county.
And stage one had been due to finish in Leamington. The town has hosted two previous stages of the Women’s Tour and were watched by more than 20,000 spectators – generating a boost worth over £750,000 to the town’s economy.
Women’s Tour organisers Sweetspot said last month sponsorship was “urgently needed” for the event and had started a crowdfunding campaign.
But Sweetspot said it had “proved impossible to deliver the event” because of “increased running costs and a reduced level of commercial support”.
Plans are under way for the race to return in 2024, in what would be its tenth anniversary.
A Sweetspot spokesperson said: “The Women’s Tour thanks everybody who donated for their unwavering loyalty, as well as all the messages of goodwill that have been sent.
“This outcome is incredibly disappointing for the stakeholders set to host this year’s race, who have shown great support and understanding throughout this process.
“We will continue to work with them to explore opportunities for hosting world-class cycling events in the near future.”
The crowdfunding campaign raised over £18,000 with the help of more than 500 individuals but did not secure the larger deals required. Some £400,000 was still needed when the event was cancelled on Friday (March 31).
Those who contributed to the campaign will be refunded.
Warwickshire County Council spokesman Mark Ryder expressed his disappointment the event would not go ahead this year.
He continued: “After hosting various stages of the Women’s Tour, the Tour of Britain and last year’s road race in the Commonwealth Games, the county has established an outstanding reputation for hosting cycling events. We remain committed to promoting cycling as a sport and as a healthy pastime and a means of active travel. We are also committed to promoting the involvement of women in sport.
“We recognise the impact the Women’s Tour has had on women and girls cycling in the county and we very much hope that that upward trend continues.”
Mr Ryder added: “Obviously, we are disappointed that the local economy will not receive the stimulus that hosting a large event such as the Women’s Tour brings. But we will continue to offer our usual package of support alongside our partnership with the Warwickshire Towns Network.”