ELITE cycling will return to Redditch next year for what could be the last time.
Council chiefs warn without business support it is likely the town will not retain its place on the Pearl Izumi Tour Series calendar beyond 2015.
Last year’s event, which saw 12,500 people pack into the town centre to watch stars including Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy compete, was the last in a three year deal between Worcestershire County Council and organisers of the road race series.
The race was originally brought to Redditch as part of the council’s £2.8million Choose How You Move project, funding for which ended this year. However the Government granted the council £110,000 to extend the scheme for another 12 months, which will be partly used to stage the race in 2015 at a date yet to be confirmed.
It had been hoped to attract sponsorship from town firms to supplement the additional funds to ensure the race could continue long-term. But while the Kingfisher Shopping Centre will sponsor next year’s race, initial efforts to secure other sponsorship have so far proved fruitless.
A spokeswoman for the county council said: “If the event is to continue in Redditch after 2015, we hope that local businesses will come together to provide the financial support needed.”
An assessment of the economic impact of last year’s race revealed the event added over £140,000 to Worcestershire’s economy and viewing figures for the highlights show on ITV4 were the highest of the series.
Of the thousands who attended, 72 per cent were outside Redditch and 52 per cent said they were inspired to cycle more often as a result.
Coun John Smith, responsible for highways on the council, said: “The Tour Series events and the work of Choose How You Move have inspired people in Redditch to adopt sustainable travel behaviours and improve their fitness through cycling. By making this investment, we’re giving a clear signal we recognise the benefits because they match our strategic priorities to protect the environment, promote health and wellbeing, and champion being open for business.”