The Tour de France could return to London in 2017. Preliminary talks are believed to have been held with the Tour’s organisers, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) and the London Evening Standard reports that Mayor Boris Johnson will soon be asked whether to authorise an official bid.
Johnson has previously been described as “agnostic” about the Tour and reportedly did not watch it arrive in the capital last year. However, the mayor’s spokesman said:
“To suggest the mayor is agnostic about the Tour proposals is simply wrong. He’s supportive in principal but wants to see how this benefits London economically and if it genuinely boosts cycling participation.
“The mayor has to balance costs associated with the Tour against the vital work of making cycling safer and more accessible across London. If the Tour can help that then it’s something he would consider carefully but it mustn’t be at the expense of our £913m support for wider cycling participation.”
London held two stages in 2007 and last year hosted the finish for stage three following the Yorkshire Grand Départ. A Transport for London (TfL) report commissioned after the 2007 Tour, estimated the two stages “directly generated £73 million in London and £15 million in Kent, as well as a further £35 million from publicity” for a cost of £5.2 million.
Christian Prudhomme said earlier this year that four German cities had expressed an interest in hosting the start of the race and Edinburgh could also be in the running after being losing out to Yorkshire in 2014. Last year, Edinburgh City Council confirmed that it planned to submit a new bid to stage the opening days of the Tour in 2018 or 2019, but that could come forwards.
Edinburgh has previously had the support of both British Cycling, but Yorkshire did not and at present the organisation is not involved in a potential London bid either. A spokesman told The Guardian said that they would be keen to get involved if hosting the race was likely to encourage broader cycling growth.
“The success of the 2007 and 2014 Grand Départs demonstrated the enormous appetite for elite cycle sport in this country and we’d love to see the Tour de France return.
“At British Cycling we have a proven track record of using the inspiration of major events to drive increases in participation and we’d hope to see any bid for cycling’s great races to be supported by a strategy to encourage more people to get active by getting on their bikes.”