Tour de France ‘would put the eyes and ears of the world on Portsmouth’

POPULAR The Tour de France in Yorkshire last year
POPULAR The Tour de France in Yorkshire last year
Emma Bonney. Picture: Steve Reid (120321-560)

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IT WILL put Portsmouth on the world sporting map.

That was the message from Olympic medallist Rob Hayles after the announcement that the city is bidding to bring the 2018 Tour de France to its streets.

He said: ‘It will put the eyes and ears of the world on Portsmouth.’

City-born Mr Hayles, a silver medallist in the pursuit at the 2000 Olympics, praised the council for its joint bid with Brittany Ferries and Portsmouth’s twin city of Caen in France.

‘The council has always backed us in cycling, so it is a great thing to aim to be one of the host cities,’ he said.

If the bid is successful Mr Hayles has put forward his idea of where he would like the race to be held.

‘We would need big open spaces like on Southsea seafront so there is somewhere to park lorries and then there is the size of the units used by television and radio – they are enormous.

‘But I would definitely like to see a seafront finish line.’

The cycling event could bring a massive boost to the Solent’s economy.

In Yorkshire, where it started last year, there was a £60m boost to the economy.

The last time the world’s greatest cycling race came to Portsmouth was in 1994.

‘I expect businesses will be rubbing their hands but it will be exciting to have the race passing outside houses,’ added Mr Hayles.

‘I was in France on a training camp then so I am looking forward to it coming back.’

He also said he would like to commentate on the event from the finish line.

‘It would be fantastic as I would have more of an understanding of what the roads are like to cycle on,’ he said.

Le Tour is a valued part of our heritage...

ROZENN Le Roux, from Brittany in France, says Le Tour has a long and proud history. Here she explains why.

‘The Tour de France is a cyclist competition created in 1903 by Henri Desprange and Geo Lefèvre, which takes place every year in July, in France.

It is considered as the most prestigious cyclist trial in the world and goes on more than 3,000km across the country.

Le Tour or Grande Boucle, as it is named in France, lasts three weeks and gathers the best racing cyclists of the moment.

About 12m spectators from all ages mass at the edge of the roads to applaud the cyclists and party with the famous publicity cars in the ‘caravan’.

One French fan Katell Quere said: ‘The Tour is a tradition that has become part of France’s heritage.

‘It is popular because it allows people to discover every part of France and its culture. Cycling is one of the most difficult sports, so we can be close to the riders and support them whether they win or not.

‘It’s a legendary competition and we are proud to be a part of it.’