YORKSHIRE’S hopes of holding another elite cycling race is the biggest threat to Portsmouth’s Tour de France dream.
That’s the warning from a cycling expert as pressure mounts on leaders to get their act together and lobby the government for funding so the region can host Le Tour’s Grand Depart.
Portsmouth’s TdF 2019 plans - on paper - have a far more compelling story and business case for government backing than Yorkshire’s.Richard Gorman
Richard Gorman, who provided backing for Team CSC Saxo Bank, which won the 2008 Tour, says Yorkshire is busy putting pressure on Whitehall to stump up cash so it can host the 2019 UCI World Championships.
That’s the same year Portsmouth wants to host Le Tour – but it needs at least £2m to put in an official bid to Tour bosses proving why it should be chosen to host the world’s biggest cycling spectacle.
Mr Gorman believes Portsmouth has a more ‘compelling’ case for funding – but says it’s down to city leaders to prove it.
He said: ‘Yorkshire’s bid for the 2019 UCI World Championships is actually the biggest threat to Portsmouth 2019 TdF aspirations.
‘They have been actively lobbying in Whitehall and have strong links within UK Sport.
‘Portsmouth’s TdF 2019 plans – on paper – have a far more compelling story and business case for government backing than Yorkshire’s.
‘The government backing Yorkshire received for the TdF 2014 Grand Depart delivered fantastic benefits for the region and will continue to do so for the next eight years at least, through the Tour of Yorkshire.
‘Yorkshire doesn’t need any more stimulus.
‘Ultimately, this battle for funding will come down to how well our MPs and city leaders can convince others of the merits of backing Portsmouth over the coming weeks.’
Portsmouth Tory culture boss Cllr Linda Symes is attending the start of the 2016 Tour this weekend with other council officials in Le Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, where elite riders will set off.
Cllr Symes said it will be the perfect opportunity to see what’s needed to put on the spectacle in the Portsmouth area – and agrees a strong case must be put forward to the Treasury for funding.
City leaders want to bring Le Tour to the region in 2019 as it is the same year as the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
It’s hoped event bosses will be won over by the prospect of riders going from Portsmouth to the South Downs before heading to the beaches of Normandy where troops landed.
Cllr Symes said: ‘This weekend will be an opportunity to see the infrastructure and how it all works.
‘It will be good to see what ability we have to facilitate it.
‘The fact that 2019 is the 75th anniversary of D-Day makes it quite an attractive bid. No-one is ruling out that we could secure it in another year instead.
‘But we will give it out best shot, and that is all we can do.’
n The News is encouraging readers to say why Portsmouth should host Le Tour as part of its Bring On Le Tour campaign.