London won the right to host the Grand Départ of the Tour de France, it has emerged – but Transport for London decided at the eleventh hour to withdraw its bid on the eve of signing a contract with race owners ASO, citing funding issues.
And in a further blow for fans of cycling in the UK, among the bids beaten off by the British capital were proposals from Edinburgh and Manchester, with the race looking likely to begin in Germany the year after next, reports BBC Sport’s Matt Slater.
The city hosted the finish of Stage 3 of last year’s race, which began in Cambridge following a hugely successful opening two days in Yorkshire, the first two stages alone boosting the local economy by more than £100 million, according to estimates.
Last year’s visit to the UK cost £27 million, of which HM Treasury provided £10 million and TfL £6 million.
The 2007 Grand Départ, which had a Prologue in London and a road stage from the capital to Canterbury, cost a similar amount and brought in spectator spend of £65.6 million in London alone, according to a report commissioned by TfL.
However, TfL – which has said it will finance the controversial Garden Bridge Project to the tune of £30 million – and the Greater London Authority decided to pull out of plans to host the race for the third time in 11 years, in part because of the prospect of further cuts to public spending in the government’s forthcoming spending review.
Leon Daniels, TfL’s director of surface transport, told BBC Sport: "To ensure value for money we must make difficult choices.
"We have always said that the return of the Tour was subject to funding."
Although not officially cited as a reason, there is also a mayoral election next May to choose Boris Johnson’s successor.
And there has also been a change at the top of TfL itself - just last week, London Underground boss Mike Brown was named successor as commissioner with immediate effect to Sir Peter Hendy, who left in July to run Network Rail.
After last year’s opening days of cycling's biggest race, Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme, who forged an excellent working relationship with Welcome to Yorkshire’s Sir Gary Verity, said he was keen for the race to return to the UK as soon as possible.
- Three UK cities in running to host Tour de France 2017 Grand Départ
But with the route of next year’s Tour de France due to be announced in Paris next month, around now is when ASO would usually expect to reveal the location of the following edition’s Grand Départ.
The organisation is said to be angry at the late u-turn by TfL, and what remains to be seen is the damage it may do to any future bid from London – or indeed any other city or region in the UK.
More police is the only answer. Both on patrol in the community, and detectives investigating the thefts and shutting down the whole chain - from...
^^ This. I have got the lightest inner tubes around. Really bumpy ride, though.
U fortunately, yes. Kids being driven everywhere, and folks having food delivered to their homes are just a few examples.
Police in "making up rules to suit themselves results in little censure from colleagues and zero punishment" shock....
Yep. Low % cycling and active travel countries like the UK can get much more benefit from "more cycling / less driving" regardless of headgear. ...
There's no guarantee that they're old enough to vote
I've found that when I have used the Park patches they tend to fail after a while - the patch eventually starts to leak a little. Rema seem to be...
Road.cc, will you ever be reviewing their F/RD model? It looks lovely, but it's a bit of a trek from the UK just for a rest ride
I'd be careful with HR. It's unlikely they'll see a driver using his car as a weapon for what it really is. Had they brandished a knife at you or...