Magnifique! More than a million watched Le Tour in Hampshire

The 1994 Tour de France passes HMS Victory
The 1994 Tour de France passes HMS Victory

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Should the Tour de France make a spectacular return to the streets of Portsmouth in 2018, it will bring back memories for thousands.

By then it would be 24 years since that magnificent July day in 1994 when the world’s biggest annual sporting event began and finished a 133-mile leg in the city.

Hundreds of spectators packed the route at Rowlands Castle

Hundreds of spectators packed the route at Rowlands Castle

When it was revealed Portsmouth and Hampshire would host Le Tour there were many who wondered what the fuss was about.

But the sceptics were put in their place when more than 250,000 spectators lined the route in Portsmouth with 100,000 crammed along the finishing straight on Southsea seafront.

Le Tour, complete with its huge publicity cavalcade, also went out into the Hampshire and West Sussex countryside where more than a million people watched.

The leg took in Wickham, Winchester, Petersfield, Rowlands Castle, South Harting and Bedhampton before returning to Portsmouth as riders raced back down Eastern Road.

Organisers were blown away by the support and promised to return one day.