Some of the world’s top cyclists won’t be racing in the Lincolnshire Wolds this summer after organisers said the event won’t return until at least 2019.
The professional ‘Tour of the Wolds’ cycling competition was staged for the first time 12 months ago and saw dozens of big names head to the area.
Thousands of fans lined the route last April with the Wolds - and hills around Caistor in particular - proving to be a highlight of a stamina-sapping course.
It was estimated the event generated a quarter-of-a-million pounds for the regional economy.
However, as it was a ‘pilot’ event, no arrangements were made for the frequency of the event to return in the future.
Organisers have confirmed that while a return in 2019 could be on the cards, the race definitely won’t be held this year.
One of the key organisers of the Tour of the Wolds, Peter Odam from Event Delivery Solutions, said: “The Tour of the Wolds hasn’t been listed in the British Cycling Spring Cup series this coming year.
“British Cycling remains keen on the Wolds as a venue, and we will be working with British Cycling to try and secure the event for 2019.
“It’s true to say costs have increased and hosting the event will depend on the sponsorship that can be raised.
“However, this is something we’ll be looking to discuss with potential funding partners over the coming months.”
When asked why the Wolds had not been chosen as a venue this year, Mr Odam continued: “Last year was a pilot event and at that point we’d not agreed the frequency that we’d try to host the Tour of the Wolds.
“We did have some discussions with British Cycling for an event this year but those discussions have only recently concluded, which doesn’t provide enough time for the significant event planning process associated with delivering such a large scale event of this kind.
“As such, rather than deliver a below par event for some of the country’s most high profile professional cyclists, we opted to focus our efforts on the planning to deliver a first-class event in 2019.”
Although the start and spectacular finish were staged in Louth, the event took in some of the very best scenery in the Wolds.
Spectators delivered a boost to local businesses with many hotels and guest houses booked up weeks in advance.
Gary Denniss, chair of Louth Independent Traders, said it was a ‘shame’ that such a great event was being put on hold this year - particularly for local coffee shops and pubs - but added he was ‘optimistic’ the Tour of the Wolds would return in 2019.
The good news is that the Tour of the Wolds ‘sportive’ - the amateur cycling event which took place the day before the professional event last year - will ‘definitely be going ahead’, according to organiser Ian Penrose from ITP events.