What started as a challenge from the boss of the Tour de France could now become an incredible reality.
Le Tour director Christian Prudhomme called on the people of Portsmouth to show their passion for the world’s greatest cycling race if they truly wanted the Grand Depart to be staged in the city. Mr Prudhomme’s message to the people prompted The News to launch a Bring on Le Tour campaign, to boost momentum and invigorate interest in cycling.
Interest in Whitehall was sparked after Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond spoke of how the government could step in and fund an application to stage Le Tour in parliament – and how backing the bid would hold great significance nationally.
Now leaders from Portsmouth City Council, working with cycling experts, have prepared a 32-page dossier calling on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to award the city £2m so it can put together a comprehensive bid to Le Tour’s bosses.
It’s a document boasting Portsmouth’s achievements, how it has become a great waterfront city and how big events have helped to propel it on the world stage.
It also explains how the whole UK would benefit and can get behind the city; particularly as winners of four of the last five Tours are from Britain.
So it’s hoped the government will be bowled over by the application – and help bring ever-lasting change. Advisors predict Portsmouth and its twin city in France, Caen, could reap economic benefits of £100m – with the ‘worst case scenario’ being a £81m net benefit.
The 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings provides an opportunity to stage, through a joint bid between Portsmouth and Caen, a Grand Depart that commemorates the events of June 1944, as well as celebrating the world coming together in a festival of sport in 2019.
The proposal is for a ‘powerful, emotionally resonant event’ showcasing the ‘best of British and French values’, as well as ‘providing a showcase for elite competition’.
June 6, 2019 – the 75th anniversary of D-Day– can be marked by a very special Grand Depart, uniting Europe in commemoration of the courage and sacrifice of the last surviving veterans.
Major event for the city
PORTSMOUTH has a ‘strong tradition’ of hosting successful, prestigious, large-scale cultural and sporting events, which have been shown to materially boost the local economy. Most recently, these have included the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series; the Nova Great South Run; and Victorious Festival.
The creation of the Land Rover BAR in Portsmouth, and hosting the World Series regattas, was ‘predicated on events as a driver of the visitor economy and wider growth in the city.’ And the report highlights how the association of the city with a high profile international event – the America’s Cup – saw Emirates buy the Spinnaker Tower naming rights.
Links with Caen
THE Portsmouth-Caen link offers a ‘fresh, emotionally resonant, story-based narrative for the Grand Depart’.
The launch of the Portsmouth-to-Caen ferry service in the 1980s offered the opportunity to forge links between the civic authorities and communities of both cities.
In 1987, documents were signed in Portsmouth and Caen declaring the two cities would ‘undertake to foster exchanges and meetings between their citizens in all fields of endeavour, including commerce and social pursuits.’
Each year, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth visits Caen to lay wreaths at the D-Day commemoration ceremonies.
WHILE it has a genuine global pull, enthralling audiences from Colombia to Japan, and Australia to Scandinavia, the race has never been so popular with a British audience.
Tour promoter ASO is very keen to further consolidate the relationship with Britain. Of the past five Tours, four have been won by British riders – Bradley Wiggins in 2012 and Chris Froome in 2013, 2015 and 2016.
Mark Cavendish is close to becoming a record-breaking stage winner.
British cyclists are leading the way and with plenty of exciting young riders breaking through, there is no sign of a slowdown.
What it did for Yorkshire
THE Yorkshire and London stages of Le Tour in 2014 generated an estimated £128m.
The bulk of the money, £102m, benefited the Yorkshire economy, while the remainder boosted Cambridgeshire, Essex and London. The two-day Grand Depart hosted by London and the south east of England in 2007 delivered £88m to the south east economy and media coverage was worth £35m.
The Yorkshire event was made up of 198 riders, 10 emergency doctors and six ambulances, 14,000 police and 47 police motor cyclists, 2,000 media and 180 support vehicles. There were 1,450 hotel beds reserved daily.
THERE are correspondingly high levels of inactivity and unhealthy lifestyle choices amongst residents, and as a result the city has high levels of respiratory and cardiovascular disease.
It is therefore ‘critically important’ that opportunities are taken to inspire behaviour change and highlight the possibilities of participation.
Major sporting events have been shown to have a powerful effect in terms of getting more people into sport.
In Yorkshire, two million spectators were inspired to cycle more frequently.
Portsmouth believes cycling could be ‘an even more intrinsic part of the ongoing economic and social regeneration’.
Tade and investment
THE spectacle would further fuel people’s interest to come and invest money.
Hosting America’s Cup World Series events in Portsmouth have provided a platform for showcasing the city to potential investors, as well as promoting export opportunities to local business, with successful associated business events held in Southsea Castle.
The Yorkshire Grand Depart provided a platform for an International Business Festival, showcasing the UK to over 2,000 participants from 10 different nations.
As a result of this, it’s been said a strong pipeline of trade and investment deals has been created.
RESEARCHERS from event and sports marketing firm SweetSpot Group estimate £100m could be brought to the Portsmouth and Caen economies through the Grand Depart.
And benefits could be had from events in the run-up to the occasion. The cost to Portsmouth of staging Le Tour would be £25m – though city leaders do not want council money going into the project and want a combination of government and private sector cash to cover all costs. Taking costs into account, the report suggested a ‘worst-case’ net benefit to Portsmouth and Caen of £81.1m. It’s said global media coverage would be worth £35m.