THE bid to bring the world’s greatest cycle race to Portsmouth has been given international support.
Council leaders are in talks with Portsmouth’s twin city Caen, which has expressed an interest in a joint bid for the Tour de France.
If successful, the cities could be part of the sporting event in the future and bring in tens of millions of pounds to boost their economies.
Council leader Donna Jones said: ‘We are exploring the possibility of a joint bid with Caen for the 2018 race or a subsequent tour.
‘We need to make the bid unique but well-organised.’
The announcement has come after talks last week with Cllr Jones, officials from Portsmouth City Council and a representative from the Mayor of Caen’s office.
During the meeting it was discussed whether the cities should bid to host legs of the tour or come together to form a Grand Départ.
‘We agreed we need to be a Grand Départ like Yorkshire as no-one really remembers the legs of the tour. This is also where we will get the economic benefit,’ said Cllr Jones.
The cities are now in talks with organisers of the Tour de Yorkshire.
Cllr Jones added: ‘We are getting advice from them of how we can put a bid together and find out how much Yorkshire benefited from the tour.
‘It would not be worth putting in a bid if it was not going to bring more than £1m to the city.’
Cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport Lynda Symes and Cllr Jones are looking to visit Caen next month to discuss the bid with the city’s mayor.
Mayor of Caen Joel Bruneau said: ‘As Mayor of Caen, I am always happy to consider joint projects with our twin city of Portsmouth, and we are, of course, willing to look into the various aspects of a potential joint candidacy for the tour.’
The proposal for the joint bid has been backed by Brittany Ferries.
‘Brittany Ferries is really on board which is fantastic as it means they can offer a package for French visitors to come watch the tour over here and take British enthusiasts over to France,’ said Cllr Jones.
Talks are ongoing with council officials to meet Tour de France organisers in Paris. The tour last visited the city in 1994 when it hosted the start and finish of Stage 5.