It’s great to hear Portsmouth’s cultural boss, Councillor Linda Symes, being so enthusiastic about the city’s ability to host the Tour de France.
After watching this year’s Grand Depart across the Channel in Normandy and getting swept up in the atmosphere and excitement, she is bullish about us staging the start of the world’s greatest cycling spectacle in 2019.
In her words, she is ‘absolutely convinced’ that the city has the ability to handle such a big sporting event.
And why not? As she points out, we’ve already proved we can put on big occasions such as the America’s Cup World Series, which returns to the city later this month after pulling in big crowds last year.
We have the setting and we have the knowhow to really put on a show if Le Tour comes to town in the 75th anniversary year of D-Day.
Cllr Symes and senior council officer Claire Looney have now seen at first hand exactly what is involved in staging the Grand Depart – they watched from a packed race village arena as cyclists set off from Mont St Michel and could clearly imagine the same scene here in Portsmouth in three years’ time, with people lining the streets to cheer on the riders.
Cllr Symes also got the chance to talk about Portsmouth’s aspirations to Jean Francois Le Grande, president of the Grand Depart committee, who went away ‘impressed’ by the prospect of bringing Le Tour to Portsmouth.
But the reality is that all that positivity simply won’t be enough if the government doesn’t stump up the £2m needed to draw up an ambitious bid to Le Tour bosses that would put together in detail exactly how a Grand Depart here would work.
So we support Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond as she vows to put renewed pressure on the Treasury to find the cash in a post-Brexit world where economic priorities may well change.
Because without it, the brakes will be firmly applied to our hopes of hosting Le Tour before they get anywhere near the startline.