NOW bring on the Tour de France – that’s the message from civic leaders as Portsmouth shone on the grand stage and welcomed cycling’s elite.
Thousand of people watched professional riders from across the globe pedal through the city centre in a bid to be crowned the winners of the Pearl Izumi Tour Series and the all-female Matrix Fitness Grand Prix racing.
Over 20,000 people have been brought into the city for the event, with an estimated economic impact of over £250,000 for the tourist economy.Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council
The spectacle marked the finals of the 10-round Izumi competition and saw huge crowds gather to cheer competitors on.
Athletes roared around a 1.2km race track, which started and finished at Guildhall Square.
Tory council leader Donna Jones believes 20,000 extra visitors poured in to the city as cycling fever set in – and an extra £250,000 was pumped into the economy.
Officials believe it is all the evidence Le Tour bosses need that Portsmouth is the ‘perfect’ host for the opening leg of the world’s greatest cycling race in 2019.
They say extra pressure will be piled on government ministers to ensure they fork out the £2m necessary to work up an ambitious bid to Le Tour’s organisers to host the event in the Solent region.
Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond, who is spearheading the attempt to bring Le Tour to the city, said there was no question that it would be the perfect host following the overwhelming success of Izumi.
Speaking to The News, Mrs Drummond said: ‘This absolutely shows that Portsmouth is capable of putting on the Tour de France.
‘There is no doubt of that. Now we have to get the funding in place.
‘We have got to make sure it doesn’t cost taxpayers anything, and now we have got to make the case to government that we need this money to work up a bid.
‘I am now waiting on a business plan to take to the Treasury to try and make that happen. I want Portsmouth to be the cycling city of the UK.
‘This has been fantastic, and shown what cycling is all about.
‘The crowds were amazing. Our events team here in the city is remarkable.
‘Time after time they help to put on these huge spectacles, whether it be the America’s Cup World Series or Victorious.’
Cllr Jones added: ‘The Pearl Izumi race is one of the most high-end professional road races in the UK.
‘The races are strategically important to Portsmouth because it shows ASO – which runs the Tour de France – that Portsmouth is capable of hosting amazing events such as this.
‘Over 20,000 people have been brought into the city for the event, with an estimated economic impact of over £250,000 for the tourist economy. It was televised and seen around the world by three million people.
‘That impact on Portsmouth is absolutely amazing.’
Portsmouth is seeking to host Le Tour in 2019 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Riders would set off from Portsmouth, before heading out to West Sussex and back and then head over to Normandy – where troops landed.
The News launched its campaign to bring Le Tour to Portsmouth after event director Christian Prudhomme challenged the people of the city to show their passion for the cycling race.
Readers have shown support through forms The News have featured asking people why they believe the race should come here. Leaders have raised the issue in parliament of the need to provide funding for a bid.
The overall cost of hosting Le Tour could amount to £30m.
Mick Bennett, Izumi race director, has rallied behind the city’s bid.
He said yesterday’s event proved Portsmouth had the potential to hold cycling’s biggest event. Portsmouth is perfect to host the Tour De France,’ he told The News. ‘It’s a beautiful city and has such naval history behind it.
‘Events like this are so important. It will bring out the best of people in the city.’
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PORTSMOUTH once again lived up to expectations.
As the sun beamed down on Guildhall Square, crowds lined the race course brimming with excitement as professional riders roared past – full of focus and determination.
And visitors came from far and wide to watch – either because they were eager to catch a glimpse of pros they knew or because they’re passionate about cycling.
And many thought the Izumi spectacle has been fantastic in helping to raise the profile of the sport.
Avid cycling fan Meg Thomas watched from Guildhall Square with her husband Del and their two children Mia, eight, and Luca, six.
The Southsea family have followed most of the stages of the competition and were delighted to be able to watch the final leg in their home city.
Meg, 38, said: ‘We’re massive cycling fans and it’s absolutely brilliant to have an event like this on our doorstep. All the kids are really excited to be here.
‘This really shows the city is ready for an event like the Tour De France.
‘It would be incredible if that came to the city.’
Julie Hall made the trip from Surrey to see her daughter, Corrine Hall, 24, race.
Julie said: ‘The atmosphere is great. This is great for the profile of cycling.
‘This is Corrine’s life.’
Stephen Kemp, of Southampton, has turned out with his family.
He said: ‘I enjoy watching cycling and thought it would be great to see it live.’
Cycling fan Simon Evans, of Hayling Island, cycled over to the Izumi spectacle with Jane Wareham and her sister, Barbara Wareham.
Simon, 57, said: ‘I’m here to watch it all and take in the wholed event.
‘Cycling has grown so much in popularity in the UK.
‘I love cycling and wanted to be part of the spectacle and take in the atmosphere.
‘I like the fact Portsmouth has really put itself out there.’
Jane said: ‘This is great for Portsmouth, to have an event like this here in the city is fantastic.
‘It puts Portsmouth on the map.
‘It’s something everyone can enjoy and brings people into the city.’
CELEBRITIES and civic leaders have told how Portsmouth has shown it is ready to host the biggest cycling event on the globe, the Tour de France.
Yesterday saw thousands of people flood the city to watch the final leg of the Pearl Izumi Tour Series.
Among those in the crowd included the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth councillor David Fuller who said the event was a stunning success.
‘This is an acorn that I’m sure with grow and grow and grow into something much bigger,’ said the Lord Mayor.
‘It’s fantastic to have events like this in the city because it helps to strengthen our bid for the Tour De France and promotes fitness in the city.
Jason Bradbury is the presenter of the hit TV programme The Gadget Show and was a presenter on the night.
A keen cycling fan, Jason said he was taken aback by the support of the city for yesterday’s action.
‘Portsmouth has had one of the best atmospheres of the whole series and the biggest turnout,’ the celebrity said.
‘After seeing tonight I think the city is absolutely perfect for the Tour De France. The streets are great and the city is architecturally stunning.’
Cllr Ken Ellcome, deputy Lord Mayor and former Tory traffic boss, said: ‘I brought this event to the city as part of my ideas to encourage cycling in the city and to bring major attractions here.’