By Nigel Wynn
London has turned down the opportunity to host the Grand Depart of the 2017 Tour de France, withdrawing its interest after reportedly being given the go-ahead by race organiser ASO.
Transport for London (TfL) pulled out from a deal with ASO to host its 10th anniversary Grand Depart on the grounds of expense, the BBC reported on Monday evening.
"To ensure value for money we must make difficult choices. We have always said that the return of the Tour was subject to funding," managing director of surface transport at TfL, Leon Daniels told the BBC.
Labour's London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan condemned the decision, saying via Twitter: "By not hosting the iconic Tour de France, the Mayor and the Government are wasting a huge opportunity to show London to the world. The Tour is one of the world's greatest sporting events. Londoners deserve to know why it's been cancelled at the last minute."
London was one of three British cities to have submitted a bid to ASO to host the opening stages of the prestigious Grand Tour, according to race director Christian Prudhomme. Earlier this year, it was reported that Manchester and Edinburgh had submitted bids along with the capital. However, Manchester City Council subsequently denied that they had submitted a bid.
London hosted the Grand Depart in 2007, with Yorkshire accommodating the first stages of the race in 2014 before stage three travelled south to the capital from Cambridge.
Since 2013, London has been the start/finish location of the one-day RideLondon-Surrey Classic road race, which is now a UCI 1.HC category event, bringing top-level racing to the capital every year.
The Tour de Yorkshire has also been created in conjunction with ASO as a legacy event after the Tour's depart there last year.
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