Friends Life unveil title sponsorship of the Tour of Britain and continued support of The Women’s Tour.

Friends Life has announced that it is to sponsor the Tour of Britain cycle race.  Following the great success of the inaugural Friends Life Women’s Tour, the pensions and retirement specialist has now become the first title sponsor of the Tour of Britain, as well as confirming continued sponsorship of The Women’s Tour. This sponsorship brings together the most prestigious British male and female professional road races under one banner.

The Tour of Britain, last year won by Sir Bradley Wiggins, is the UK's biggest professional cycle event, with 108 top cyclists racing through nine stages, covering more than 1,350 kilometres.  The 2014 event starts on 7th September in Liverpool, with a world-class field competing over eight days before culminating in a time trial and criterium in London on 14th September. More than a million fans are expected to line the route to watch the country’s largest free-to-spectate sporting event.  

The sponsorship will also include the Friends Life Yellow Jersey, which will be worn each day by the race leader. Friends Life will also be supporting the Tour Ride, a mass-participation event to take place in October.

To mark the sponsorship, Andy Briggs, Group Chief Executive of Friends Life was joined in London by 2013 Tour of Britain stage winner Alex Dowsett and Jessie Walker, who competed in the Friends Life Women’s Tour this May.  The elite cyclists mounted a tandem bike on the roof of One New Change to celebrate the sponsorship together.  

Andy Briggs said:

“Cycling is now hugely popular in Britain and we want to encourage and support its growing popularity by sponsoring the Tour of Britain. The success of the inaugural Friends Life Women’s Tour has fuelled our enthusiasm for elite road racing and the inspiration it brings to a wider cycling audience. These tours are not only a great test of strength, endurance and ability for the race participants, they also bring together family and friends in support of the race and highlights the mental and physical benefits of cycling to all.

“This sponsorship also gives us the opportunity to demonstrate how the discipline of being a cycling professional is similar to being financially fit. Our business is about being financially prepared through each stage of life whether it’s saving for retirement or protecting families.”

Commenting on the announcement, Hugh Roberts, Chief Executive of race organisers SweetSpot said: “We are delighted to be renewing and extending our partnership with Friends Life to encompass the two biggest cycling Tours in the UK.  Friends Life are the perfect ‘fit’ and their plans for activating their involvement will no doubt prove to be ground breaking, not just for the events themselves, but more importantly in our eyes, for the greater good of the sport.

“Securing the support of such an established blue chip organisation will raise the profile of The Tours further and take both the Women’s Tour and Tour of Britain to another level. This partnership is an affirmation of our work on both races.”

Below – Andy Briggs, Friends Life Group Chief Executive (2nd right) and Ian Drake, British Cycling Chief Executive (left), with professional cyclists Alex Dowsett and Jessie Walker, announce Friends Life’s sponsorship of the Tour of Britain cycle race, at Friends Life Group headquarters in London. Photo: Geoff Caddick/PA Wire

Jonny Clay, British Cycling director of cycle sport, said: “We saw with the Tour de France the huge appetite there is to watch bike racing in this country and today's announcement is reward for the years of hard work which have gone into the Tour of Britain and the Women's Tour.

“The success of the inaugural Women's Tour, added to the ever-improving Tour of Britain, demonstrates British cycle sport's growing strength in the world of major events. Both are hugely important to British Cycling's strategy to use elite cycling to inspire more people to get on their bikes.”