British Cycling welcomes Tour of Britain and Women's Tour sponsor deal

British Cycling welcomes Tour of Britain and Women's Tour sponsor deal

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British Cycling has welcomed the news that the Tour of Britain has secured a title sponsor in a joint agreement also involving the Women's Tour.

Friends Life has renewed its commitment to the Women's Tour and becomes the first title sponsor of the Tour of Britain.

Jonny Clay, British Cycling director of cycle sport, said: "We saw with the Tour de France the huge appetite there is to watch bike racing in this country and today's announcement is reward for the years of hard work which have gone into the Tour of Britain and the Women's Tour.

"The success of the inaugural Women's Tour, added to the ever-improving Tour of Britain, demonstrates British cycle sport's growing strength in the world of major events. Both are hugely important to British Cycling's strategy to use elite cycling to inspire more people to get on their bikes."

The Tour of Britain, last year won by Sir Bradley Wiggins, is the UK's biggest professional cycle event, with 108 top cyclists racing through nine stages, covering more than 1,350 kilometres.

The 2014 event starts on 7 September in Liverpool, with a world-class field competing over eight days before culminating in a time trial and criterium in London on 14 September. More than a million fans are expected to line the route to watch the country’s largest free-to-spectate sporting event.

Group chief executive of Friends Life Andy Briggs said: “Cycling is now hugely popular in Britain and we want to encourage and support its growing popularity by sponsoring the Tour of Britain.

“The success of the inaugural Friends Life Women’s Tour has fuelled our enthusiasm for elite road racing and the inspiration it brings to a wider cycling audience.

“These tours are not only a great test of strength, endurance and ability for the race participants, they also bring together family and friends in support of the race and highlights the mental and physical benefits of cycling to all.”

Commenting on the announcement, Hugh Roberts, chief executive of race organisers SweetSpot said: “We are delighted to be renewing and extending our partnership with Friends Life to encompass the two biggest cycling Tours in the UK.

"Friends Life are the perfect ‘fit’ and their plans for activating their involvement will no doubt prove to be ground breaking, not just for the events themselves, but more importantly in our eyes, for the greater good of the sport.

“Securing the support of such an established blue chip organisation will raise the profile of The Tours further and take both the Women’s Tour and Tour of Britain to another level. This partnership is an affirmation of our work on both races.”