THE campaign to bring the opening stage of the Tour de France to Portsmouth has been dealt a bitter blow after it was disregarded by the national body for cycling.
British Cycling believes it will be ‘impossible’ for the region to gain all necessary funding to stage the spectacle in 2019 – the year civic leaders want it to be held to tie in with the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
It would limit the possibilities, in fact make it impossible for 2019. From our side it would be a no strategically as it doesn’t make sense.British Cycling cycle sport and membership director, Jonny Clay
In an interview with Cycling Weekly, British Cycling cycle sport and membership director Jonny Clay said: ‘The Grand Depart is certainly something we’d love to see return to Great Britain but 2019 probably seems illogical now, given the amount of funding and essential resources these events require from the government and UK Sport.
‘It would limit the possibilities, in fact make it impossible for 2019. From our side it would be a no strategically as it doesn’t make sense.’
Portsmouth City Council has yet to hear whether it will be awarded £2m by the government to put in a formal application to Tour bosses to host the Grand Depart.
A business case for funding estimates the cost of hosting it would be £25m.
The council has already ruled out putting money in and wants either Whitehall or the government to pay.
It was only last year British Cycling formed a partnership with the city council to increase cycling opportunities in the city.
Tory culture boss, Cllr Linda Symes, hasn’t ruled out the city’s chances.
She said: ‘We haven’t heard anything back formally yet.
‘Nothing has been said so we will just have to wait and see.
‘I don’t know where British Cycling has got that information from.’
Portsmouth MP Flick Drummond says she plans to meet culture secretary Karen Bradley to get her views on the business plan.