International cycling events bring millions to Warwickshire says organiser

Pictured: (from left to right) Heath Harvey, Simon Jones, Nic Erskine (CW Champions Manager), Steve Richards and Les Ratcliffe (CW Champions Chairman).
Pictured: (from left to right) Heath Harvey, Simon Jones, Nic Erskine (CW Champions Manager), Steve Richards and Les Ratcliffe (CW Champions Chairman).

The social and economic impact Britain’s most prestigious cycle races bring to Warwickshire were the key topics at a leading business networking event in Warwick recently.

Heath Harvey, CEO of SweetSpot Group – the organisers of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour and the OVO Energy Tour of Britain – was one of the keynote speakers at the summer Coventry and Warwickshire Champions event held at Warwick School’s Warwick Hall.

Mr Harvey said: “The OVO Energy Women’s Tour came to Warwickshire last month, attracting massive crowds and showcasing the region to more than 98 countries worldwide, including every country in Europe.

“The Women’s Tour boosted the Warwickshire economy by an incredible £2million this year.

“The men’s event is even bigger and brings more tangible benefits. For example, each stage of the event requires 600 hotel beds and attracts almost 100,000 spectators, including tourists from outside the country.

“Regions across the UK realise how showcasing their area can bring real benefits and Warwickshire have done that extremely well over the last three years, and to have both events in the county really is a feather in its cap.”

For three consecutives years, the third stage of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour has started and finished in Warwickshire. This year, the men’s tour will be coming to the county for the first time on September 5.

Harvey also described how the cycle tours help influence and inspire people to get involved with cycling.

He said: “As well as economic benefit, the cycle races aim to inspire the younger generation into getting involved with the sport.

“This year, an estimated 7,500 school pupils watched the Women’s Tour live.

“Cycling is a sport that anyone can get involved with and this is an important message to pass on to our stars of the future.”

Simon Jones, Secretary of the Warwick Independent Schools Foundation, was also a keynote speaker on the morning.

He went into detail about the new £28 million development at King’s High School for Girls – also known as the Project One campus.

The line-up of speakers was rounded off by Steve Richards, Warwickshire-based CEO of Casual Dining Group – which includes Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas, who gave an insight into the casual dining group trends, the growth of restaurant chains and the future of the high street.

The Warwick Hall, which was built by Deeley Construction and completed in September 2016, has hosted a range of conference events, exhibitions, concerts and performances.

Les Ratcliffe, Chairman of Coventry and Warwickshire Champions, said: “The turnout for this event was amazing.

“We would like to give huge thanks to Warwick School for hosting us as well as everyone who was involved in the smooth running of the event.”

The Coventry and Warwickshire Champions scheme is run by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership.