Audacious bid to take Tour to Asia turns out to be a misunderstanding

Tour de France 2014

The Tour peleton rides past the Arc de Triomphe in 2014 — and it seems it will in 2016 too

Story by Jack Beavis

Earlier this week it seemed as if the Tour de France could make its debut outside of Europe when Thailand announced its bid to host the race in 2016. However race organiser ASO has dismissed the claims, saying that it had merely discussed a new criterium, not the Tour itself.

The country’s Tourism Authority described Thailand as the “perfect location”, but seemed to have got the message lost in translation. TAT governor Thawatchai Arunyik told Reuters: “We’re not sure yet how many stages we will hold, whether it is one or two stages or the whole competition. This is something that still needs to be discussed.”

Turns out that wasn’t the only thing yet to be decided upon.

Far from allowing Thailand to host the whole race, the ASO halted speculation the Tour would visit the Asian country at all. “There are talks indeed, but not to bring the Tour to Thailand,” a spokesman told Reuters. “There are discussions to settle in Thailand via a criterium, just like we did in Japan with the ‘Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France’.

Thailand’s enthusiastic bid was released on Thursday after talks with ASO chairman Jean-Etienne Amaury in Paris a month earlier.

The 2015 Grand Depart will take part in Utrecht, following the most northerly Grand Depart in Yorkshire this year. It will be the 21st occasion the race has started outside of France.

As cycling continues to globalise there has been much speculation as to whether it is possible to take the Tour de France away from Europe. But it seems it won’t be Thailand — not yet, anyway.

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  • ian franklin

    This statement issued by the Tourist Authority of Thailand says a lot about the gross incompetence in every field in this country. In this instance ASO’s executives have a long meeting with the leading directors of TAT which discussed holding a pro criterium in this country. Perhaps lost in translation (but I doubt it) the TAT officers seized the opportunity to tell the world that the Tour de France would be in Thailand during 2015. Not only that the press reports were accompanied by a picture of older Thais tiddling along on ill-fitting MTBs. This is not unusual. This kind of thing happens all the time. In cycling the the Thai Cycling Association’s president once sent me an email which said “Thai people are not interested in cycling” and that was their reason for not developing the sport. The national track team came to our velodrome and spent the evening practicing football drills (yes really!). If you consider that people in control of various institutions are there because of family connections and not because of their skills, you’ll understand how this country gets itself into these huge messes. A frustrating place to live!

  • Hadyn Bosher,

    ‘The Tour” for Thailand!!??? Wow!! where is the comment from Thailand’s own, Ian Franklin!!!! That would be a First for Thailand!!!,and Asia.,but not yet i’m afraid.!!

  • Hadyn Bosher,

    ‘The Tour” for Thailand!!??? Wow!! where is the comment from Thailand’s own, Ian Franklin!!!! That would be a First for Thailand!!!,and Asia.,but not yet i’m afraid.!!