As the Tour de France?s return to London looms ever closer, race organisers ASO have confirmed to Cycling Weekly that a meeting will take place between race director Christian Prudhomme and London Mayor Ken Livingstone some time in March.
However they categorically denied that this meeting had already taken place – as was claimed in Friday?s edition of the French newspaper L?Equipe.
?They will meet in March. They will discuss a Tour return to London. But that meeting has yet to happen. What was published about them meeting on Wednesday is not correct. Christian Prudhomme was somewhere else, not in London.? an ASO spokeswoman told Cycling.
Prudhomme is due to meet Livingstone with the possibility of one or two Tour stages taking place prior to the 2012 Olympic Games believed to be high on their list of priorities.
The immense success of the 2007 en Angleterre Tour has acted as a spur to speed up a return trip. The meeting between Prudhomme and Livingstone will be considered a big step forward in the right direction for that visit to happen.
The question being posed is, therefore, now more when than if the Tour?s return visit to London will take place. 2009?s Tour start in Monaco – located in the opposite corner of France – makes that year unlikely. Plus time-wise, it is still very close to the Tour?s previous trip across the Channel.
2010 looks more probable. The Grand Depart is expected to take place abroad – and the Tour has said it will be in one of three cities: Dusseldorf (Germany), or Rotterdam or Utrecht (Holland).
That is the right part of the world for a first week visit to London, perhaps at the end of the first seven day block of racing with a stage to London and a time trial 24 hours later.
But if 2010 looks like the most likely candidate, the other UK ingredient in future Tour routes is, of course, the Scottish bid for a Grand Depart. Would it be possible for them to be combined?