Organisers of the Cyclone Festival of Cycling have warned that next year’s 13th edition of the event could be the last unless a new sponsor is found. The future of one of Britain's biggest one-day men's elite races, the Beaumont Trophy, is also at risk.
The first edition of the Cyclone Festival took place in 2006 after Peter Harrison, organiser of the Beaumont Trophy, was approached by Newcastle-upon-Tyne City Council to devise a programme of cycling events to coincide with it.
The result was a schedule that saw criterium races held in Leazes Park on the Friday evening, a challenge ride offering three route options through Northumberland on the Saturday, and the Beaumont Trophy on the Sunday.
Initially sponsored by Northern Rock, Virgin Money took over after it acquired the building society in 2012 and that year’s edition, by now also including the Curlew Cup women’s race, was due to see the launch of a family-friendly ride across the Tyne bridges on the Friday until it had to be cancelled due to freak weather.
While next year’s edition will go ahead as planned – it takes place from 15-17 June – Harrison has warned that it may be the final one after Virgin Money ended its backing in 2016.
Since then, the event has been loss-making, with costs associated with the Beaumont Trophy said to be “potentially unsustainable” after next year’s 67th edition.
First held in 1952, recent winners include Malcolm Elliot, Russell and Dean Downing, Rob Hayles, Kristian House and Sir Bradley Wiggins, whose second victory in 2011 came as the race was used for the British national road race championship.
Harrison said: “The Cyclone Festival offers something for everyone: families and young children enjoy our Friday evening rides by the Tyne; club and leisure cyclists ride Saturday’s Cyclone Challenge Rides in their thousands; elite men’s and women’s teams then race over the same roads on the Sunday.
“We raise thousands of pounds for charities every year and enjoy tremendous support from the local communities through which our events pass.
“But, despite running the whole weekend on a not-for-profit basis, we still need the backing of a major sponsor if we are to continue running and developing the weekend.”
“We are looking to find a major backer who will headline across the whole weekend,” he added. “In return we can offer them a well-established platform for their brand.
“Messages of sustainability, corporate responsibility, health and fitness all sit well alongside the way we promote and run the Festival.”
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.