PLANS to hold the finale of the Tour of Britain cycling race on the Isle of Wight have moved a step closer, after they were backed by council bosses.

The Isle of Wight Council cabinet last night (Thursday) agreed to pursue negotiations with organisers, with a view to securing sponsorship and funding.

The international event is due to be broadcast live on ITV4 and Eurosport in September 2021, showcasing the Isle of Wight to a global audience and providing a huge boost to the economy .

Cllr Wayne Whittle, cabinet member for regeneration and business development, said it was a unique opportunity.

He said: "Previous events demonstrate the benefit to the local economy could be as much as £4 million.

"A single stage can attract upwards of 150,000 spectators and generate the equivalent of £1.2 million in free advertising."

The Tour of Britain attracts some of the world's top cyclists, including Olympic champions and Tour de France winners.

The cost to the council of hosting the event could be around £340,000 — including a £250,000 payment to host the finale stage — which would come from the authority's already stretched 2020/21 and 2021/22 budgets.

The other £90,000 would cover associated costs, such as traffic management.

The council said it hoped to replenish its coffers by securing sponsorship, and through partnerships with third parties.

Cllr Whittle said he would not let the opportunity 'slip through his fingers' and revealed he was also in talks to host other major events on the Island.

He said: "We are going to grab this — to host the last leg of the Tour of Britain is a huge thing, don't underestimate it.

"It all ends here, which means the prize giving will be here, so it's almost 14 hours of live television coverage and the Island is very photogenic."

Council leader Cllr Dave Stewart said the Island deserved the opportunity.

He said: "There is a lot coming to the Island. We all look at the challenges for local councils and communities, but this is what the Island is good at.

"We are good at providing a great, inspirational place and this is getting recognised.

"What we do need is for our community to come forward and sponsor what we are doing, but we also need people to host these people and help them have a fantastic experience so they come again."

Following the cabinet decision, the council will pursue final talks with organisers SweetSpot to enter into a contract.