We really hope those behind race bid can pull it off

Clive Smith says he would not like to arm wrestle athlete Caster Semenya 		Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

CLIVE SMITH: English pigs? Don’t bite the hand that feeds you

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We already have the world’s leading sailors coming here this summer and next to compete in the America’s Cup regatta.

Now the best cyclists could also be on their way to Portsmouth as city leaders reveal they want to host a stage of the Tour de France in 2018.

How exciting is that? With the annual Great South Run also attracting top athletes, that would be quite a trio of elite sporting events if those behind the bid can pull it off.

Of course, nothing is guaranteed. But we have to be in with a good chance of impressing Le Tour bosses with what we have to offer.

Imagine the colour and the atmosphere as crowds descend on Southsea and then line the route out of the city and into the countryside as hundreds of cyclists speed past. And think of the TV exposure as pictures are beamed around the globe.

Then there’s the massive boost to the local economy if the race and all the associated carnival comes to town.

When Yorkshire hosted two stages of Le Tour last year, the whole county got caught up in Le Tour fever and we’re sure the same feelgood factor would happen here.

We only have to look back 21 years to when Portsmouth last hosted the event to see how keenly it was embraced.

Above all, attracting Le Tour would once again demonstrate that Portsmouth is a go-ahead place, a proud city steeped in history but also embracing change and skilled at staging world-class events.

The public appetite is clearly there. Just look how quickly tickets for the America’s Cup regatta in July have been snapped up.

And wouldn’t it be great if watching the world’s finest riders in action on our doorstep inspired people to get out on their own bikes?

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