As far back as May, Cyclo reported that regional tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire were in ‘advanced talks’ with Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO, the owners of the Tour de France) about bringing the opening stages – the ‘Grand Depart’ – of the 2016 TdF to Great Britain. At the time Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, confirmed “…in-depth discussions are ongoing but I can reveal Yorkshire’s bid has been positively received by the organising committee at this stage.”
Now it seems a rival British bid is also in the works. Speaking at the Track Cycling World Cup in Glasgow, Jonny Clay, Cycle Sport and Membership Director of British Cycling, said, ‘The ultimate idea is to bring the Tour de France back to Britain… clearly our sport continues to raise its profile, people like Sir Chris (Hoy) help that of course (as does) Bradley’s great success at the Tour de France this year… We are confident that the ASO want to come to Britain to capitalise on the interest. They saw the Olympics, they saw the Road Race and the enormous crowds.’ So far, so uncontroversial – though he then continued, ‘There are two bids in – one of those bids starts on Edinburgh, goes into England, into Wales for a full day and that back into England – four days of bike racing at the beginning of the Tour de France.’
Although Clay admitted it wasn’t ideal to have rival bids in from the same country (a clear danger of cannibalising votes), he went on to emphasis the strength of the Scottish-start bid and pointed out that the route was designed to be accessible to 50% of the population with a 30minute drive.
Cyclo will keep you posted…