West Sussex adds weight to Portsmouth Tour de France 2019 campaign

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SUPPORT for Portsmouth’s effort to stage the opening leg of the Tour de France in 2019 continues to grow.

The leader of West Sussex County Council has thrown her weight behind the effort to secure the Grand Depart.

This is an exciting ambition and something in principle we would be keen to look at in greater detail.

Councillor Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council

The county would benefit as elite riders could travel from Portsmouth to Chichester and up the South Downs before heading back along the coast.

City leaders then want to see participants set off for France and ride along the beaches of Normandy, in the spirit of D-Day to tie in with the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings.

Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport and Havant councils have already welcomed the prospect of Le Tour coming to the region.

Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, said she is keen to find out more.

Cllr Goldsmith has already had talks with Portsmouth leader Donna Jones about the aspiration.

The cost of drawing up a bid could reach £1.5m and the overall bill could top £27m by the time the region has hosted Le Tour.

Cllr Goldsmith said: ‘This is an exciting ambition and something in principle we would be keen to look at in greater detail.

‘Of course we would need lots more information, but we are always open to hearing of any way to promote West Sussex and our beautiful area.’

Meanwhile, Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones says she plans to give a presentation to culture secretary John Whittingdale about the campaign and the need for the government to fund it.

Portsmouth MPs Flick Drummond and Penny Mordaunt will also have a separate meeting with Mr Whittingdale.

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