Success for Tour of Britain as significant viewership jump is announced
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Success for Tour of Britain as significant viewership jump is announced

by VeloNation Press at 10:32 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Britain
 
Good news for cycling in year before London Olympics

Tour of BritainIn what is a reflection of cycling’s ongoing growth in the country plus increased general interest in the sport, viewership of the Tour of Britain surged markedly during the 2011 edition, held in September.

The race organisers today confirmed the increase, releasing figures which are very encouraging for the race. Although a foreign rider – Lars Boom (Rabobank) - won overall, home interest was huge and bodes well for next year’s Olympic Games in London.

According to the released statistics, the daily ITV4 highlights programme jumped up from a 2010 figure of 401,000 to 483,000, representing a 17% gain. The official webpage for the race had over 2.49 million page views from almost 300,000 unique users, and the race’s Twitter account surpassed 10,000 followers by the end of the 2.1 event.

Interest was doubtlessly generated by the participation of several star riders, including Mark Cavendish (HTC Highroad). He won the first and last stages, while 2010 world champion Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) also competed and was victorious on stage four.

In addition to Cavendish, British viewers saw others from the country ride strongly; Alex Dowsett (Sky Procycling) won the time trial while his team-mates Steve Cummings (second overall) and Geraint Thomas (points jersey) also shone. Jon Tiernan Locke (Rapha-Condor) was king of the mountains.

Expectation was high that Cavendish could use the race as platform to win the world road race championships and he duly did so, triumphing exactly one week after winning the final sprint in London.

Organisers savour success:

SweetSpot Group Chief Executive Hugh Roberts is, as expected, extremely satisfied with the viewership. “The confirmation of our best-ever viewing figures is the affirmation of what has undoubtedly been the best-ever edition of The Tour,” he said.

“Coming off the back of similarly excellent viewing figures for The Halfords Tour Series on ITV4, and the success of the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana on the same channel [ITV4], it shows the increasing mass market appeal that professional cycling has in Britain.”

The Halfords series reached an average of 244,000 viewers on ITV4.

Lars BoomThe most popular stage of the Tour of Britain reached slightly over double this number, with 592,000 viewers tuning in for stage three to Stoke-on-Trent. Lars Boom triumphed there, deposing race leader Mark Cavendish and grabbing an IG Markets gold jersey he would hold until the end.

Of course, the race was also watched in other areas that Britain alone. Channels from Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, France, Italy, Ireland, Norway and Turkey broadcast it, and as did those in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. According to the organisers, it went out to a potential audience of over 75 million homes in 64 countries. It was also watched by viewers in the USA, who had the chance to see it via Cycling TV.

British cycling could have its best season ever in 2012, with Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins targeting success in the Tour de France, Sky Procycling aiming to win throughout the year and the country’s team chasing medals on home soil in the Olympic Games. That could drum up even more interest, and Roberts said that his team will be ready to put on a very big edition.

“Work is already well underway on the 2012 Tour of Britain, which we are determined to once again take to the highest possible levels,” he promised. “Coming just a month after the conclusion of the Olympics, interest in The Tour will be higher once again and we are sure that the huge crowds will once again be at the roadside for Britain’s largest free-to-attend sporting event.”

Next year’s race will take place between Sunday 9th and Sunday 16th September. More details will be revealed in the New Year.

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