So, now you know. The 2022 Tour of Britain will take over 100 of the world’s best riders from Aberdeen to the Isle of Wight, via Sunderland (hosting a finish for the first time); Redcar & Cleveland (a new area for us); North Yorkshire (returning to the race for the first time since 2009); and Gloucestershire and Dorset (both welcoming full stages for the first time).

Hopefully, for many, many people, today’s announcement has whet the appetite for what promises to be eight unforgettable days of racing in September.

We appreciate that our annual route reveal is an emotive day for cycling fans in the UK. Believe us when we say that we’re sorry for not visiting your hometown or the climb you’ve been riding up for years. However, this has nothing to do with us ignoring places: sadly it’s not possible to visit every part of Britain in just eight days.

Putting together each year’s route is a logistically and strategically challenging task. This explainer guide details how the eight stages are chosen and the challenges we face as an event organiser.

I can’t believe you’re ignoring my hometown on this year’s race! Why?

Unfortunately we cannot cover every part of Britain during an eight-day bike race. It’s impossible and unfortunately the nature of the beast when it comes to organising events. Take this year’s Tour de France route, for example: look how much of the country that doesn’t cover in 21 days of racing!

Under the rules set by the UCI, the sport’s governing body, we cannot have any stage above 240 kilometres in length. Also, the maximum average daily distance permitted is 180 kilometres, so from starting out in Aberdeen city cente, we’d have to take the most direct route to get riders to the Isle of Wight within the rules. Even then, that would be a push! This route would still face challenges, too, because of the required support from host venues.

So how do you choose the route?

As we reiterate every year, we don’t just sit in a dark room and stick pins in a map at random. Promise!

The key thing is this: we have to take the race to those places who support the event financially.

This fact often gets overlooked.

Why’s that?

Organising bike races is incredibly expensive – particularly in 2022, as our planning still has to consider COVID-19 protocols (under the guidelines set out by the UCI, cycling’s governing body), the cost of which we have to meet.

That may not sound like much, but that’s additional expenditure on top of the event’s other outgoings. We have to pay for the hotel rooms (including breakfast and evening meals) for all the riders, team staff, officials and event crew during the race. Prize money? Yep, we cover that, too – in 2019 that came to a little under £100,000.

Throw in the cost of the live TV production (a significantly higher six-figure sum), the police and National Escort Group teams (who are vital when it comes to making the race safe for everybody), our infrastructure, and staff to oversee the year-long planning of the event, and before you know it the cost of organising the Tour of Britain comes close to £3m per year.

Now, if we took place in a stadium and had 50,000 tickets to sell, we’d be able to recoup that money almost instantly. However, the beauty of cycle racing is that it’s free-to-watch as it passes by people’s homes, workplaces and, in many cases, local pubs!

Tell us more about the funding model…

Because of the infrastructure and resource required to put on the race, our host venues will pay a fee to welcome the Tour of Britain (as is the case with every big cycling event around the world). It’s important to remember that this is always recouped by the sheer benefit of having thousands of people visit – the 2021 race generated a net boost of over £29m for the British economy and around £3m on average for each host venue!

We work with our stakeholders and partners to put the stages together. In regards to this year’s race route, the starting blocks we built around were the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Grand Départ (which was agreed to in November 2019) and the Isle of Wight finish (finalised in July 2020).

Then, owing to our fantastic ongoing relationship with our partners in Nottinghamshire – a county returning to the race in 2022 after four years away – meant that nearly half of the race’s eight stages were quickly filled. Given our final destination, and the need to get close to the south coast for stage seven at the latest, exploring the possibility of holding stages in the Home Counties and East Anglia would have made little logistical sense at this point. Why’s that? UCI rules are rightly in place to minimise the transfer time between stages as part of their rider welfare programme.

Tour of Britain 2022 route

Photo: Ian Stannard won in Nottinghamshire during the 2018 Tour of Britain. This year’s race returns to Robin Hood country for the first time since then.

But you visited [insert place name here] last year and you never come to my hometown!

Once our host venues see the huge boost that welcoming the Tour of Britain provides to their local economies, it’s unsurprising that they do all they can to have the race return. Devon, for example, appeared in the 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2021 races (the 2020 event was postponed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic). Elsewhere, Cumbria has welcomed stages in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2021. As the race organiser, we have to balance this demand from places who want the Tour of Britain back (and have agreed multi-year contacts with us) alongside new host venues.

Also, we also organise the Women’s Tour and Tour Series. Some of our host counties and regions like host to one of these events instead of the Tour of Britain from year to year, too. Looking back at 2019, for example, there were no Welsh stages in the Tour of Britain but two days of the Women’s Tour took place the country.

This year’s Women’s Tour (Monday 6 to Saturday 11 June) featured two stages in Wales, as well as visits to Oxfordshire and the East of England – both areas that this year’s Tour of Britain will not visit. The Tour Series culminated with a spectacular Grand Final in Manchester in May following rounds in Essex and London, again making up for places that the Tour of Britain won’t hit in 2022.

If you live close to these stages, please go and support this race and the amazing riders who will compete in it. Our research shows us that the vast majority of people in England, Scotland and Wales are within two hours of an event organised by SweetSpot Group in 2022.

But it can’t be a Tour of Britain if you don’t visit Wales!

We have heard this a lot in 2022, but the race name still stands. England and Scotland form two of the three nations that make up Great Britain, after all. Additionally, there’s nothing in the name that binds us to cover all three nations: did you know, for example, that Wales featured in the first modern Tour (2004) but did not return until 2010. It’s probably a good job that social media was still in its infancy during that time!

It’s also worth remembering that the Four Days of Dunkirk doesn’t take place over four days (six in 2022), nor does the Three Days of De Panne (one!). Also, the Tour de France won’t be renamed this year to the Tour de France et Danemark, even though Copenhagen is hosting the Grand Départ. Race names are not a form of social contract.

There are so many amazing cities that you keep ignoring!

We speak to counties, regions, cities and large towns across England, Scotland and Wales on a regular basis. Trust us when we say that the places we’d like to take the Tour of Britain are those on your desired list but, depending on their local strategies and existing events calendar, some are simply not interested in hosting a cycle race. Additionally, based on how long conversations with authorities have been taking place, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on council resources has been a factor.

Nonetheless, we’re proud of how much of Britain we’ve covered in recent years. Since 2018, Aberdeenshire, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Cornwall, Warwickshire and Wirral have hosted a stage start and/or finish for the first time. Dorset, the Isle of Wight, Redcar & Cleveland and Sunderland will be added to that list in September.

We introduced an innovative uphill team time trial in Cumbria. Edinburgh and Newcastle city centre hosted their first-ever stage finishes while Manchester returned to the event after a 15-year absence. We always said that as soon as we could go back to Yorkshire we would: that’s the case for the stage four finish on Wednesday 7 September!

Scotland had never hosted two full stages prior to 2019: it will have done so in three-consecutive Tours after 2022. Last year’s race featured back-to-back days in Wales, too, for the first time.

Finally, as mentioned above, keep your eyes peeled for the Women’s Tour and Tour Series host venues, all of which will be revealed in the coming weeks. There may still be some elite cycling coming to a town or city near you in 2022!