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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