Portsmouth calls on government to get behind ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to fund Tour de France project

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THIS is our ‘once-in-a-generation’ chance to bring the Tour de France to Portsmouth.

That’s the core message in a dossier filed to the government in the hope ministers will award the region the £2m it needs to prepare a bid to hold the elite sporting spectacle.

There is no doubt in anyone’s minds that hosting the Grand Depart in the next five years would be a huge boost to the economy of the Solent, and would put us on the map for very positive reasons...

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council

Today The News can exclusively lift the lid on the document pulled together by Portsmouth City Council leaders and external experts.

It outlines in detail exactly why Whitehall must get behind the campaign to bring Le Tour’s 2019 Grand Depart to Britain.

Portsmouth wants to link up with the French city of Caen and stage a route for riders along the south coast before they ride along the beaches of Normandy – commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

The introduction of the 32-page dossier to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, says: ‘The Portsmouth-Caen proposition offers an emotionally resonant, story-based narrative, offering a spectacular historic route, the privilege to pay tribute to the last survivors of D-Day, and the opportunity to link in with the relaunch of the D-Day Museum and two new aircraft carriers coming to Portsmouth.

‘The proposition affords the host cities a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver extensive benefits to the local economy and community in the run-up to 2019 and beyond, firmly positioning Portsmouth and Caen as venues for hosting major international events.’

An 11-point breakdown of the dossier reveals Portsmouth and Caen could reap economic benefits totalling £100m – at a time when British interest in cycling has never been higher and UK cyclists Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins have won four of the last five Tours.

The full list of points of Portsmouth’s grand plan to stage Le Tour are;

n Linking to the 75th anniversary of D-Day – Elite cyclists would cover a track between Portsmouth and West Sussex before heading to France and riding along the beaches of Normandy

n Cementing the long-standing relationship between twin cities Portsmouth and Caen, honouring those who created the shared history (including the Normandy landings) and making it relevant to a new generation.

n Capitalising on British success in Le Tour

n Staging a week-long programme of events in the run-up to the Grand Depart, including training races and public events to attract crowds.

n Building on Portsmouth’s proven track record for events – Great South Run, America’s Cup, Victorious Festival.

n Estimated £100m boost to Portsmouth and Caen’s economies, generated through an increase in visitors to both regions, taking into account money they would spend on hotels, in shops, bars, restaurants

n Putting the city on the world stage.

n Showcasing businesses to potential investors visiting for the Grand Depart – similarly to what happened at this year’s America’s Cup World Series.

n Boosting tourism – of the about 1m visitors to Yorkshire’s Grand Depart, 500,000 returned for another visit and 800,000 said they would recommend the area.

n Building local pride in the city with community projects and opportunities to get involved similar to London 2012 Games Makers

n Inspiring participation – opportunity to build on the city’s successful Pedal Portsmouth work which has seen thousands of people get active and take part in cycling groups and events

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of the city council, said it was crucial the government listened.

Cllr Jones said: ‘There is no doubt in anyone’s minds that hosting the Grand Depart in the next five years would be a huge boost to the economy of the Solent, and would put us on the map for very positive reasons, as this is one of the biggest sporting attractions in the world.

‘We have had experts helping us put together a report showcasing the potential economic impact and the benefits this could have on the region.

‘However, we are well aware that a cost of putting together a bid to stage the Grand Depart is in the region of £2m.

‘There is absolutely no way in the current climate we as a council could possibly make Portsmouth taxpayers foot the bill.’

PROPOSED PROGRAMME OF EVENTS

THE business case put to the government has proposed a week-long programme of events in the run-up to the Tour de France Grand Depart.

City leaders say they would stage a Tour-themed festival from Monday, July 1 to Monday, July 8, 2019.

The race headquarters would be based in central Portsmouth, in a location yet to be revealed, throughout the whole week from the Monday through to Sunday.

Wednesday, July 3, would be the day when the world’s media would get the chance to come and sign up to report on the occasion.

An opening ceremony and team presentations would be held the following day.

Friday, July 5, would be set aside for Le Tour training races and a ‘bike festival’ would be held in the evening, followed by a gala dinner.

Time trials along Portsmouth’s waterfront would happen on the Saturday.

And then Stage One of the Grand Depart would be put together on Sunday – and see riders cover a route yet to be confirmed connecting Portsmouth and Goodwood via West Sussex and Hampshire.

Riders would then be transferred to Caen.

Stage two of Le Tour, dubbed ‘Caen to Caen’, would happen on Monday, July 8.

Riders would take to the road via France via the D-Day beaches.

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