Big joint push is needed to woo Le Tour back to city
So, one of British Cycling's big cheeses is trying to put a spoke in the wheel of this region's bid to bring the Tour de France back to Portsmouth.
As we report today, Jonny Clay reckons it’s ‘illogical’ to bring Le Grand Depart back to Britain in 2019.
His reasoning would appear to be that Yorkshire is hosting the World Road Championships that year.
He also claims there is not enough time for the wider Portsmouth area to attract the cash – estimated at £25m – to put on what the organisers love to say is ‘the world’s largest annual sports event’.
Yes, £25m in these straitened times is a large sum, but just consider the economic spin-off Yorkshire enjoyed two years ago when the Grand Depart powered its way through that county.
More than 3.5 million spectators crowded the roadside and those fans generated £102m for Yorkshire immediately – a figure which rose to £150m subsequently.
There were also benefits it was impossible to measure – the profile of that county around the world had never been higher, publicity which is expected to have a lasting impact for years to come.
Let’s not forget, this region, led by Portsmouth, has done it before. In 1994 hundreds of thousands turned out to watch the race leave and return to the city and en route as it steamed through the beautiful countryside of central and east Hampshire and West Sussex.
The leaders of all the local authorities concerned got together to make it happen and it was a triumph.
It also happened to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings: 2019 is the 75th and potentially the final time that momentous event will be commemorated on any scale.
Portsmouth was the hub for Operation Overlord and the government of the day invested huge sums to make the city the focus of world attention that year.
So why not again? A concerted effort by the leaders of all the councils in this area to push the government for a symbolic re-enactment of 1994 is exactly what should be happening – now.