Florence officially launches 2014 Tour de France bid
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Florence officially launches 2014 Tour de France bid

by Ben Atkins at 8:19 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Proposal warmly greeted by race chief Christian Prudhomme

tour de franceThe Italian city of Florence has officially launched its bid to host the start of the 2014 Tour de France, according to AFP. The presence of the race would form part of the city’s celebrations to honour Italian cycling legend Gino Bartali, who would have turned 100 years old that year. Bartali was born just outside Florence on July 18th, 1914 and died there, aged 85, on May 5th, 2000, eleven years ago today.

Bartali won the Tour in 1938 and 1948, making him the only rider to have won the race either side of World War II; it is also the longest gap between two victories. Il Pio (the Pious one), as he was known, also won the Giro d’Italia in 1936, 1937 and 1946. His strict Catholic lifestyle was a direct contrast to that of his much more cosmopolitan rival Fausto Coppi.

The bid appears to have been greeted warmly by Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme.

“From a geographical and historical point of view, it’s almost abnormal that the Tour has never started in Italy,” Prudhomme told AFP.

“We were given a very warm welcome during our last ride through Italy,” added Prudhomme. “Everything was decked out in yellow, and I’m sure it will be the same when we go through Pinerolo next July.”

The Tour de France regularly crosses the Alps to Italy; most recently, in 2008, a stage finished in Prato Nevoso, spent a rest day in the area, and then started in Cuneo the day after. The race’s most recent visit to the country though was in 2009 when it crossed the north west corner as part of the stage between Martigny, Switzerland and Bourg-Saint-Maurice.

In this year’s edition the town of Pinerolo will host the finish of stage 17 and the start of stage 18.

Since starting in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1954, the race has often held its Grand Depart outside France; the regularity has increased in recent years, with the most recent being London in 2007, Monaco in 2009 and Rotterdam in 2010.

According to AFP, there are several other cities and regions vying for the 2014 Grand Depart, including Barcelona (Spain), Edinburgh (Scotland), Yorkshire (England), Limburg and Utrecht (Netherlands), Mannheim (Germany), Tyrol, Salzburg (Austria) and Qatar.

In addition, there is a further bid from the Italian province of Liguria, the home of Ottavio Bottechia, the first Italian to win the Tour de France.


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