The return of professional bike racing to Portsmouth this summer has been tipped to boost the bid for the Tour de France Grand Depart in 2019.
The city will host the finale of the 10-round Tour Series – a high-speed circuit race championship which last visited in 2010 – on Thursday, June 9.
Riders from reigning champions Madison Genesis joined councillor Ken Ellcome to make the announcement at the Gunwharf Quays home of sponsors Pearl Izumi.
Matt Cronshaw, who has made more appearances in the Tour Series than any other current professional racer, said: ‘Across the whole of the country, cycling is enjoying a boom time.
‘With anything like the Tour Series, the crowds get bigger and bigger every year.
‘Once people get a little taste of it, they tend to come out more and more.
‘When the Tour came to Yorkshire, it had a dramatic effect on the number of people who came out to watch the Tour of Britain.
‘So if you give people a taste of professional racing with the Tour Series, that can only boost the chances of getting the Grand Depart.’
Cllr Ellcome, who is the city council’s cabinet member for traffic and transportation, added: ‘This will raise the profile. I hope we will draw in a good crowd and get TV audiences across the country and even Europe.
‘And if we can show we can host an event like this well and we get a good turnout, hopefully the organisers of the Tour de France will see that as a positive towards our bid.’
Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones launched the bid to bring the Grand Depart to Portsmouth last month. Since then it has received support from councillors and MPs across the region.
Staging the event will cost around £30m. Cllr Jones has said that for the bid to succeed, central government would have to step in with significant funding.
BRING ON LE TOUR
AS PART of The News’ Bring On Le Tour campaign, we want you to show the passion to bring the great event to Portsmouth.
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