One of British Cycling’s directors has said that it would be “impossible” and “illogical” for Portsmouth to host the Tour de France Grand Départ in 2019, as a result of Yorkshire’s staging of the Road World Championships.
The Hampshire city’s council has been putting together plans to bid to host the Tour in 2019 and earlier this month wrote to the government outlining its plans and asking for £2m to fund the bid.
But Jonny Clay, BC’s cycle sport and membership director, said that BC wouldn’t back a “major event”
taking place in the same year, instead supporting major cycling events every “two-to-three years”, thus rendering support for Portsmouth’s bid null.
“The Grand Départ is certainly something we’d love to see return to Great Britain but 2019 probably seems illogical now, given the amount of funding and essential resources these events require from the government and UK Sport. It would limit the possibilities, in fact make it impossible for 2019,” he told Cycling Weekly.
“From our side it would be a no strategically as it doesn’t make sense.” Clay also casts doubt on the government’s willingness to pay for another major cycling event in the same year.
“I would imagine that the support that is required financially would also be a no,” he said. Clay also confirmed that Portsmouth was “just one of a few” inquiries BC have received in relation to UK cities wanting to host major international cycling events.
Portsmouth hosted the Tour in 1994, when stage five of the race finished there. The city council first expressed its desire to have the race back in 2015, when it said it was interested in bidding to hold the Grand Départ in 2018.
But it later decided it would be better to bid to host the race in 2019 to coincide with the anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Members of the council and two local MPs, Flick Drummond and Penny Mordaunt, met with John Whittingdale, then culture secretary, before the Brexit vote in June, in an attempt to secure funding for a bid.
CW understands discussions with Whitehall are ongoing. However, the council is yet to strike up a formal dialogue with Tour de France organiser ASO and Tour director Christian Prudhomme has previously said he wants to see “passion” from the city in any bid.
Portsmouth City Council declined to comment. The Department for Culture Media and Sport did not respond to a request for comment.
Richard is digital editor of Cycling Weekly. Joining the team in 2013, Richard became editor of the website in 2014 and coordinates site content and strategy, leading the news team in coverage of the world's biggest races and working with the tech editor to deliver comprehensive buying guides, reviews, and the latest product news.
An occasional racer, Richard spends most of his time preparing for long-distance touring rides these days, or getting out to the Surrey Hills on the weekend on his Specialized Tarmac SL7 (with an obligatory pub stop of course).
How Clay Davies became an accidental figurehead
When Clay Davies become the first openly gay rider in the UK's elite ranks, he suddenly found himself in unfamiliar territory
By Alex Ballinger •
Bahrain Victorious respond after researchers reveal riders at ‘three-week race in France’ had muscle relaxant in their systems
While the research paper doesn’t name the team, riders or race, Bahrain were raided by police at the Tour de France
By Alex Ballinger •