The 2021 AJ Bell Tour of Britain, the first edition of the UK’s most prestigious cycle race in two years owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, enjoyed significant TV growth during September’s comeback event that was won by Wout van Aert.
In addition to the roadside crowd of over one million spectators across the eight stages, ITV4’s flag-to-flag live coverage of the Tour, held between Sunday 5 and 12 September, was watched by an average daily audience of 423,000 – a 31% increase from the 2019 edition. This year’s race was the fourth in event history to be shown live and in full on ITV4, producing over 40 hours of original programming, plus repeats, for UK viewers. In total, the race reached 2.6m viewers for its ITV4 live shows, eight per cent higher than its previous edition.
Hugh Roberts, chairman of race organiser SweetSpot, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the TV audience results from this year’s AJ Bell Tour of Britain. We are thankful to have such loyal support from our broadcast partners, most notably ITV and Eurosport, as well as our fans all over the world.
“Being able to run such a thrilling race, one that stretched from Cornwall to Aberdeen, in September was a privilege after what has been the most challenging years for everyone involved in the events business. We are now looking to build upon this for the 2022 race next September.”
In total, 15.9m people worldwide watched the race, helped by the race’s partnership with Eurosport and the Global Cycling Network (GCN). During race week, the Tour benefitted from 1,787 hours of coverage around the world, generating £48.3m of net sponsorship value for partners, according to analysis by YouGov Sport.
The AJ Bell Tour of Britain also enjoyed significant growth across its digital platforms during the 2021 race, with over 4.5m video views during race week on the Tour’s channels. Over 1.6m of those came from a clip of Team Jumbo-Visma rider Pascal Eenkhoorn handing his bidon to roadside spectator and talented junior rider Xander Graham during the race’s seventh stage between Hawick to Edinburgh. The video is the most-watched clip in modern Tour of Britain history.
Next year’s AJ Bell Tour of Britain will take place between Sunday 4 and 11 September. Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire will host the Grand Départ, before the Isle of Wight welcomes the race for the first time ever when it stages the finale on day eight.