This year’s Women’s Tour is at risk of cancellation if fresh sponsorship cannot be found.
Britain’s longest-running major international stage race, which counts Lizzie Deignan, Marianne Vos and Elisa Longo Borghini as former winners, is in peril after the loss of key partners has left a £500,000 shortfall in funding.
Organisers Sweetspot announced the route for this June’s race on Thursday but also warned the popular event “urgently requires additional commercial income for the 2023 edition”.
Introducing the Women's Tour 2023 route 😍
— The Women's Tour (@thewomenstour) March 9, 2023
The race went ahead without a title sponsor in 2022 and is still seeking a lead partner. Additionally, three of the race’s four jerseys – the leader, mountains and best young rider classifications – are without a sponsor, while commercial packages remain available for individual stages.
The race is also seeking a vehicle partner after Skoda exercised a break clause to end their deal at the end of last year.
Sweetspot have a soft deadline of mid-April to begin plugging the gap given the need to begin booking accommodation, finalising logistics for the race and confirming plans with local authorities.
The route announced on Thursday will see the race begin with a stage between Stratford-upon-Avon and Royal Leamington Spa on June 7 and conclude with a street race around Birmingham on June 11.
Stage two will go from Northampton to Ampthill, Bedfordshire, before the queen stage of the race from Dalby Forest to Guisborough via the North York Moors, the most northerly stage in the race’s history.
The peloton will then return to Warwickshire for a stage between Coleshill and Derby before the circuit race around Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter sees the overall victor crowned.
It was hoped that Thursday’s route launch could spark new interest in the race, and indeed the PA news agency understands organisers have already had some conversations with potential partners in the wake of the announcement and remain optimistic of the race going ahead.
Race director Mick Bennett said: “Given the current economic climate, we have had to work harder than ever before to put together a race befitting of the world’s best teams and riders, so I must thank all of our stakeholders for their continued support of the event.”