Decision coming soon on proposed Tour de France return to Britain
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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Decision coming soon on proposed Tour de France return to Britain

by VeloNation Press at 2:57 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
British Cycling backs Scottish bid over rival Yorkshire’s application

Tour de FranceTour de France organisers ASO are expected to make a decision in the coming weeks about whether the race will return to Britain in either 2014 or 2015. The race last visited the country in 2007, when huge crowds and a welcoming atmosphere were regarded as making a very successful Grand Depart.

That experience, Bradley Wiggins’ overall victory plus the huge growth in the sport are all believed to be acting in the favour of another race start on the island, with two rival bid both pushing hard for selection.

The first of those, a race start in the Scottish city of Edinburgh, has seen changes to the initial plans. It was originally envisaged that the Tour would begin with a prologue time trial but ASO are thought to have made clear that a road race stage is preferable.

According to Scotland on Sunday, the revised proposal would see Edinburgh Castle host the team presentation on the eve of the Tour, then the race would head south on stage one and potentially finish in either Newcastle or Dumfries.

It is projected that subsequent stages could head to Manchester, Wales and the south of England prior to a transfer back to mainland Europe.

“It’s a really compelling bid,” said Event Scotland’s Paul Bush, chief operating officer of the company which has driven things along since meeting ASO in 2007. Quoted by Scotland on Sunday, he explained what he felt were the strengths of the project. “On the back of the London Olympics and Bradley Wiggins’ win in this year’s Tour, we feel it represents a unique opportunity. It’s a proposal that would take the Tour within an hour of the homes of 30 million people: 50 per cent of the population of the UK.”

The group’s international events director Stuart Turner told the Guardian that there was another reason why the bid could be successful. “The current economic situation in Europe means that [the Tour organisers] may not have as many countries banging their doors down as they usually do,” he explained.

However there is another rival bid which is hoping to take the Grand Depart from under their feet. Yorkshire is the location for another Tour start project, and it has been pushing hard for ASO selection. It may have made things a little tougher for itself, though, as a lack of communication with British Cycling has seen the governing body say this weekend that it is backing the Scottish bid instead.

BC president Brian Cookson explained that only the latter project had made an attempt to include the federation in its bid.

“We have not been involved [with the Yorkshire bid], simply because they didn’t ask us,” he said at the recent presentation of the 2013 Tour, according to Scotland on Sunday. “You would normally expect there to be a more meaningful dialogue with a possible host city or area than we have had with Yorkshire. We have asked.”

Cycle sport and membership director at British Cycling, Jonny Clay, confirmed to Sky Sports that the body had made a choice with regards what bid to back.

“It's kind of daft to have two bids going in for the same years,” he said. “All we could really go was encourage Yorkshire to be part of a Scottish start.

“But you've got to understand it from their perspective. That's not then the Grand Depart. It's not a criticism that they still want to go ahead with their Grand Depart bid.”

He said that either way, he’d be delighted if the race returns to Britain. “If Yorkshire come through and win this, great. From British Cycling's perspective it's just good that it's coming,” he said. As for the Edinburgh proposal, he said that it was the preferred option for BC. “We're backing what we think is the best bid.”

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