MORE support has been thrown behind efforts to bring the Tour de France to the Portsmouth region.
Gosport and Havant’s council leaders have backed the bid to secure the opening leg of the elite cycling race in 2019, and spoken of the economic benefits it would bring.
Visitors would have the opportunity to come to those areas to enjoy themselves at the same time as coming for the Tour de France. They would be able to see the delights of Havant and what we have to offer.Councillor Mike Cheshire, leader of Havant Borough Council
It comes after Richard Gorman, who sponsored Team CSC Saxo Bank when its rider Carlos Sastre won Le Tour in 2008, said it would be a ‘game-changer’ for the area should it draw up a bid to event bosses and win.
Portsmouth council leader Donna Jones has already spoken of her desire to see riders set off from the city and ride up to the South Downs and back before riding along the beaches of Normandy, as a tribute to D-Day veterans.
Havant leader Mike Cheshire said visitors pouring in to watch riders would give areas of the borough a huge lift.
Cllr Cheshire said: ‘Havant would most certainly support the Tour de France coming through Portsmouth, as it has done in the past when it came to the area.
‘It would bring in tourism, it would bring in people, and show what the Havant area is really like.
‘I am pretty sure we would get an overspill of people, as we have Hayling Island, Emsworth, Waterlooville, and other areas.
‘Visitors would have the opportunity to come to those areas to enjoy themselves at the same time as coming for the Tour de France. They would be able to see the delights of Havant and what we have to offer.’
Gosport leader Mark Hook said the proposed route wouldn’t bring economic benefits to the town, but he’s confident residents would show their support anyway.
Cllr Hook said: ‘People from Gosport would very likely go out to Portsmouth to see the ride and help line the streets. I don’t think there would be the economic benefits for Gosport as there would be for areas that are part of the ride.
‘But we welcome any event that happens in the Portsmouth Harbour area and would be supportive of it.’
Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond has written a letter to culture secretary John Whittingdale urging him to provide cash for a bid to be drawn up to Le Tour bosses to host the race.
Cllr Jones has said any application would need to be ‘wholly’ funded by the government and council cash can’t be used due to limited resources.
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt has also pledged to speak to ministers to see what they can do.