Leg of British race could come to Portsmouth to bolster Le Tour hopes

The Tour de France in Yorkshire in 2014
The Tour de France in Yorkshire in 2014
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WE remain committed to bringing the Tour de France to Portsmouth.

That is the message from the city council, who have aspirations of bringing the opening stage of the world famous race to the area.

Portsmouth is trying to position itself as one of the top cities in the UK to host international sporting events

Councillor Donna Jones

And in an effort to bolster the bid and beam a spotlight on the region, city officials want to work on hosting a leg of The Tour of Britain.

It’s a multi-stage challenge which sees elite participants race across Britain in the fastest time.

As reported, the city council submitted a business case for £2m to the government in September to host the Grand Depart of Le Tour in 2019.

But, because Yorkshire won the bid to host the UCI Road World Championships the same year, leaders think it’s very unlikely Whitehall will plough cash into two major sporting spectacles.

But Portsmouth Tory council leader, Councillor Donna Jones, says she’s still committed to securing Le Tour.

She insisted not a penny of public money has been spent on a bid – which would cost in the region of £1m to £2m – but other options are being explored.

Cllr Jones said: ‘Rather than putting your eggs in one basket, it is better to do a range between 2019-2023.

‘We have learned when you build your bid, such as Yorkshire did; they bid the year before to host it and failed.

‘Edinburgh built a bid and spend the best part of £1m and just because they weren’t successful, they can use that again in the future, with a few things to tweak.’

Cllr Jones said it still is a possibility Portsmouth could host Le Tour in 2019 – if a private investor is found.

At a meeting of the full council this week, she said strong links had already been forged with contacts from Cycling Weekly and the Sunday Times, which will help them in the future.

And she said negotiations have been ongoing with the financial backers of the America’s Cup.

Council bosses have also written to the Mayor of Caen, Portsmouth’s twin city, to see if they are still committed to the bid, although Cllr Jones said she was not afraid to go it alone if they were not.

Lib Dem councillor Matthew Winnington asked Cllr Jones if Portsmouth would consider hosting a leg of the Tour of Britain as Yorkshire, Edinburgh and London all had stage race experience before they bid.

Cllr Jones replied: ‘We do need to demonstrate we have the infrastructure and capability.

‘And by hosting events like that, they can see what a fantastic city it is to put on the television.

‘Portsmouth is trying to position itself as one of the top cities in the UK to host international sporting events.’

But Cllr Jones added after the meeting: ‘It would depend on if they want us to pay, how much it would be and what we would get out of it.’