Team GB's Olympic success is '˜helping to breathe new life into Portsmouth Le Tour campaign'

CITY leaders are returning to France to draw up a grand plan to bring the Tour de France to Portsmouth.

Portsmouth is aiming to host the world's premier cycling event, the Tour de France
Portsmouth is aiming to host the world's premier cycling event, the Tour de France

Tory culture boss Linda Symes is set to meet the Mayor of Caen, Joel Bruneau to discuss how the two regions can work together to bring the opening of the elite cycling race to the Solent in 2019.

Hopes are high that Team GB’s cycling success at this summer’s Olympics will inject more energy into the campaign to secure government money for the bid.

Cllr Symes, who watched the start of this year’s Tour in Normandy, said: ‘It would be in the year of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, so we want to commemorate that and show how the two countries can work together.’

Cllr Symes added: ‘Our achievement at the Olympics absolutely adds weight to our aspirations. Every time there is a significant sporting event, it gains interest, especially from young people, and they are the ones who we want to steer away from obesity.’

It comes after Mr Bruneau visited Portsmouth during the America’s Cup World Series and declared he wanted to ‘make history’ and help the city with its efforts. Should Portsmouth and Caen secure the £2m they need to apply to host Le Tour then it would be the first time two regions have mounted a challenge for the event. Cllr Symes is hopeful the government’s decision to award £24m to fund Yorkshire’s bid to stage the cycling world champions will not hamper Portsmouth’s Le Tour campaign.

She said: ‘It shouldn’t affect us, it’s a different type of event altogether. The government always seems to find money when it wants to; if they think it’s a good enough idea, then they will fund it.

‘We will just do our best to produce the best bid we can; but that bid can only happen with government money.’

Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond is due to present a business case put together by the city council to the government in an attempt to secure funding.

She was due to take the dossier, outlining how exactly Portsmouth and the UK would benefit from staging the Grand Depart, to Whitehall earlier this month, but has sought more details from council bosses to ensure the business case is ‘absolutely watertight’.