Gino Bartali's son Andrea and Florence city officials are planning to bid to host the start of the 2014 Tour de France.
"We've been talking about this proposal for five years and it's finally coming together," Andrea Bartali told Italian website, Tuttobiciweb.com. "If it happens, it will be a great way of honouring 100 years since my dad was born."
Bartali was born in 1914 in Ponte a Ema, seven kilometres from the heart of Florence. He lived there until he died at the age of 85 in 2000.
He won two editions of his home country's Grand Tour, the Giro d'Italia, before he raced his first Tour de France in 1937. That year, he won the mountain stage to Grenoble and held the race leader's yellow jersey for two days. He abandoned the race after a crash in the morning leg on stage 12. He returned the next year and won the race. And after World War II, he returned to take his second win in 1948.
He took his last and 12th stage win at the 1950 Tour de France.
In its 97 editions, the Tour de France has never visited Bartali's country for its Grand Départ. It has gone outside its boarders, though. The start in Rotterdam last year was the 18th time the race began outside of France.
1954: Amsterdam (Netherlands)
1958: Brussels (Belgium)
1965: Cologne (Germany)
1973: Scheveningen (Netherlands)
1975: Charleroi (Belgium)
1978: Leiden (Netherlands)
1980: Frankfurt (Germany)
1982: Basel (Switzerland)
1987: Berlin (Germany)
1992: San Sebastian (Spain)
1996: 's-Hertogenbosch (Netherlands)
2004: Liege (Belgium)
2010: Rotterdam (Netherlands)
2012: Liege (Belgium)
The Tour de France will start with the Passage du Gois in the Vendée department of western France this July. Starting in Florence, however, would mean that the organiser runs another two to three stages before reaching France. At that point, the race could tackle the Alpine mountains and then travel west to the Pyrenees.
Florence's bid is expected soon. Vice mayor, Dario Nardella gave Andrea Bartali the green light on Friday to make a proposal to the Tour's organiser, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO).
On September 29, Florence won its bid to host the 2013 World Championships. If successful with its Tour bid, it will host two of cycling's top events in a span of nine months.
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