FRESH doubt surrounds Portsmouth’s hopes of ever staging the Tour de France again after the leader of the council revealed the city has given up hope of staging the opening of the spectacle in 2019.
Councillor Donna Jones said in an interview with Cycling Weekly that putting on the event in the same year as the 75th anniversary of D-Day was only ever an ‘aspiration’ – despite a £2m bid for funding to stage it being filed to Whitehall this year.
Whilst it’s very disappointing that we won’t be able to use the occasion to also give a final salute to the last remaining D-Day heroes, it does mean that the city can step back and refocus on hosting the grand depart, still in conjunction with Caen in 2021.Richard Gorman
The senior Tory said she was now focusing her efforts on bringing Le Tour’s Grand Depart to Portsmouth – in a deal with twin city Caen – before 2025.
She said: ‘To secure 2019 would have been going some, but that was the aspiration.
‘But just because we aren’t going to have it in 2019, it doesn’t mean we won’t have it.’
Cllr Jones added: ‘We are still hoping to do that (host the event), but it was always going to be between 2019 and 2025; you build a bid that could work any time in that period. We are in dialogue with Le Tour organisers ASO and it is healthy and ongoing.’
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has yet to reveal whether it will award Portsmouth the £2m it needs to put forward a formal bid to ASO.
The government came under fire after it admitted losing the dossier after it was submitted by Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond in September. She has declined to comment about the fiasco.
The council spent £1,227 working up the bid. ASO said it would reveal next year who will be chosen to stage Le Tour’s Grand Depart in 2019.
Richard Gorman, who provided backing for Team CSC Saxo Bank in the 2008 Le Tour, and who contributed to Portsmouth’s business case for government funding, believes the city shouldn’t give up hope – saying Portsmouth is still the ‘best option’ should the world’s greatest cycling race make its return to the UK.
He said: ‘Whilst it’s very disappointing that we won’t be able to use the occasion to also give a final salute to the last remaining D-Day heroes, it does mean that the city can step back and refocus on hosting the Grand Depart, still in conjunction with Caen, in 2021.
‘Lessons, though, will need to be learned from this setback. It’s not all about money, it’s about investing in the right relationships early and making sure everyone is supportive before any requests for funding are made.
‘Portsmouth is still by far the best option for the TdF for its next visit to the UK.’