‘Portsmouth must prove it can create Tour de France legacy’ says Cycling UK

Riders in the Tour de France
Riders in the Tour de France
Marguerite and Rex Ponsford at their home

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MORE must be done to show why staging the Tour de France in Portsmouth can get more families taking up cycling and improve lifestyles.

So says the man leading the national effort to increase the number of non-competitive riders taking up the activity.

The department for culture, media and sport and Sport England, have been consistent in saying in recent years that the actual investment in sport itself doesn’t get more people active.

Roger Geffen MBE, policy director for charity Cycling UK

Roger Geffen MBE, policy director for charity Cycling UK, says Portsmouth cannot sit back and hope millions will come from Whitehall to fund a bid to stage Le Tour, whether in 2019 or beyond.

Speaking to The News, Mr Geffen, who spoke about the importance of cycling safety also being improved on city roads at the latest meeting of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, said: ‘Coming up with a strategy to show how a prospective Tour de France Grand Depart in Portsmouth can leave a legacy, boost noncompetitive participation and lead to safer cycle routes being introduced would strengthen Portsmouth’s bid.

‘The Department for Culture, Media & Sport and Sport England, have been consistent in saying in recent years that the actual investment in sport itself doesn’t get more people active.

‘There needs to be evidence that elite sport can lead to an increase in normal participation in every day life.

‘If Portsmouth can somehow drop in that narrative, it could strength their bid.

‘There is this constant problem that past sporting events – such as the Olympics and not just the UK Olympics – have not led to improved outcomes of participation in activity.

‘We are well beyond many of our cultural neighbours.

‘We have got an obesity crisis, the courts have ruled twice that air quality emissions are inadequate.’

A spokesman for Tour organisers ASO said it had not yet chosen a host to stage the Grand Depart in 2019.

WHITEHALL has yet to reveal whether it will fund Portsmouth’s application to stage the Tour de France in 2019.

The city council gave Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond a 32-page business case requesting £2m in funds to launch a formal bid to Tour organisers ASO. The application was shrouded in controversy after the department for culture, media and sport lost the file once Mrs Drummond submitted it in September.

The case for funding was only retrieved this month after The News exposed the ‘administrative error’. A department spokesman then confirmed the details were being considered.