Man who sponsored winners of 2008 Tour de France throws weight behind Portsmouth’s aspiration

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THE MAN who sponsored the team that won the 2008 Tour de France says bringing the elite race to Portsmouth would be a ‘game changer’ for the city.

Richard Gorman provided backing for Team CSC Saxo Bank, which was made up of professional riders including former Spanish racer Carlos Sastre, who came first in the event that year.

I truly believe all the vital ingredients needed for Portsmouth to win are within reach.

Richard Gorman

Mr Gorman, who lives in Horndean, has rallied behind efforts to bring the opening leg of the event to the city in 2019 – and is confident costs could be much less than many anticipate through careful planning.

It’s already been estimated the cost of drawing up a bid to Tour bosses outlining why the event must come to the city could cost £1.5m – and hosting the spectacle could see the bill rise to £30m.

Mr Gorman said: ‘Having the 2019 Le Tour start in Portsmouth would be a game changer for the future of our city - and I’m sure, if planned smartly from day one, that an awesome Grand Depart can be staged at a far lower cost than the ‘‘big numbers’’ that are currently being bandied about.

‘A lot of people are probably looking at what was done in 2014 in Yorkshire and thinking Portsmouth needs to do something similar, but it doesn’t.

‘Portsmouth can put on a very different show that will be visually stunning and incredibly exciting to watch both live and on TV.’

Mr Gorman said he has contacted council leader Donna Jones and plans to meet her to see how he can help. And he is urging the city to forward a ‘brilliantly constructed’ application.

He added: ‘I have also been in touch with local cycle clubs and my network of pro-cycling contacts and every single person I’ve spoken to so far is 100 per cent behind Portsmouth staging this event. Winning the right to host the Tour de France Grand Depart is a such a massive coup that the competition from other cities such as Florence is bound to be very stiff and Portsmouth will need to put forward a brilliantly-constructed, fully-supported and securely-funded bid into the hands of ASO’s Christian Prudhomme.

‘I truly believe all the vital ingredients needed for Portsmouth to win are within reach.’

Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond is writing to culture secretary John Whittingdale urging the government to provide cash.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt has also pledged to help. She said: ‘Our city would make a striking setting for this great sporting event. I will be making representations to see what support can be secured.’