Brit Tour gets go-ahead

British cycling is set to welcome top level pro racing once again following the announcement of a re

British cycling is set to welcome top level pro racing once again following the announcement of a re
After a lot of behind-the-scenes muttering, the much-rumoured Tour of Britain has finally been given the go-ahead and will take place on September 1-5, just after this summer's Olympic Games. The event is being put together by specialist sports marketing agency SweetSpot, who will be calling on former Kellogg's Tour and PruTour organiser Mick Bennett to act as technical director. UCI commissioner Pat McQuaid has been appointed race director. The event will feature 16 teams of elite category status. Some stories have mentioned Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich as possible participants, but this seems unlikely given the heavy commitments both will have had earlier in the summer. A more likely main draw would be Britain's top rider, David Millar, with the ideal scenario for all concerned being Millar taking a gold medal at the Athens Olympics, which would establish him as a true figurehead for this new event. Granted 2.3 category status by the International Cycling Union (UCI), the race has followed the Tour de France's example in searching out a number of key backers rather than chasing one leading sponsor on which the whole event depends. It appears different regional development bodies will back a stage of the race, enabling them to highlight visitor attractions in those areas. The race is set to start in the north-west of England, move across on day two into Yorkshire, then head into the East Midlands on day three, South Wales on day four, and conclude with a city centre criterium in Westminster. BBC Sport have committed to providing coverage of the event, some of which will be shown live on Grandstand on the Saturday and Sunday afternoons. British minister for sport Richard Caborn said of the event's re-emergence: "I am delighted that the Tour of Britain is returning to the sporting calendar after a five-year gap. We all know that the Tour de France is an extraordinary national and international event - much more than just a cycle race - and I hope that the British Tour can generate something of the same sort of public enthusiasm, drama and sporting excellence. It can provide so many other benefits too: encouraging people to be more active, promoting tourism and being an event that embraces the whole country - not just one town or city."

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