A LEADING figure in Portsmouth’s cycling community says the French are in favour of the city’s bid to host the Tour de France.
Guy Watson is the founder of i-Team cycling club and organised a training route for Tour de France riders through the UK in 2007.
He has now claimed Portsmouth’s hopes to host Le Tour are gathering popularity over the Channel, particularly because they tie in with the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
‘It will be amazing if we get the start – they really want it to happen in France,’ he said.
‘The French love our D-Day idea so there’s a lot of support over there. It’s ironic with all that’s going on in the EU at the moment. The French do have a real soft sport for Britain right now. I think that the British and the French have a family relationship – it can be a bit love-hate though.’
Guy said the experience would bring back a lot of memories from when he set up a training route from Croydon, along the south of England to Aldershot for professional team CSC.
The French love our D-Day idea so there’s a lot of support over there.Guy Watson, founder of I-Team in Portsmouth
He remembers vividly being part of the team convoy, with paparazzi chasing on motorbikes attempting to get photos of the riders.
‘The paps were mounting the pavement trying to get pictures – it was crazy,’ said Guy, a risk engineer of Park Lane, Bedhampton.
He added: ‘At the time you don’t realise that it’s going to be one of those moments that punctuates your life. It was just awesome.’
Guy, who last year started a junior cycling team, now hopes that if the Grand Depart were to come to Portsmouth, it would inspire the city’s children into the sport.
‘This could be massive for the city,’ he said.
‘I know all the cycling groups are prepared for it.’