When will Britain know if it will host the Tour de France 2026 Grand Départ?

There is no official bidding process to decide the location of the Tour de France Grand Départ

Tour de France
(Image credit: Getty)

Britain is not likely to know if it will host the start of the 2026 Tour de France until at least two years out from the proposed start date.

It was announced in the Chancellor’s Budget in October that £30m was being set aside to bring the Tour back to the UK for the first time since 2014, with that pot of money also being used to potentially stage the 2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup. 

In the November 4 edition of the Cycling Weekly magazine, it was revealed that the proposed route would begin in Scotland - most probably from Edinburgh Castle - before stage two would be held in northern England.

Stage three would finish in northern Wales, with one insider who has knowledge of the planned route confirming that the Welsh stage would be the most dramatic in terms of an anticipated general classification battle. 

The UK-wide bid has to be submitted to Tour organisers ASO in “early 2022” before a bidding process is undertaken. It is not yet known what other countries and regions are seeking to bring the Grand Départ to their area in 2026. The Tour, traditionally, starts outside France every other year.

A Tour de France spokesperson told Cycling Weekly that they were unable to say when ASO will announce where the race will begin in four editions’ time, with a number of figures across the three-nation bid informing this publication that they have been told not to speak about the bidding timeline to the press. 

Unlike other international events, there is no structured bidding process to follow.

From past announcements, however, Grand Départs have never been revealed more than two-and-a-half years in advance of the start date.

Yorkshire’s successful staging of the 2014 event was only confirmed in December 2012 while more recently Bilbao were only awarded the 2023 start in March 2021. 

It follows a trend, with Copenhagen being awarded the initial 2021 start (pushed back a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic) in February 2019, and Brussels being informed of their 2019 hosting in May 2017.

Cycling Weekly also understands that ASO are unlikely to deviate from that pattern, and when bids for the 2026 event are tabled at the start of 2022, each region will be assessed thoroughly with delegates from ASO visiting to be shown stage routes and the area.

Christian Prudhomme, the Tour's race director, is known to want to bring the Grand Départ to Italy, with Florence previously having been earmarked to host the 2014 start before Yorkshire was selected. The Italian city announced in 2020 that it was actively working on a renewed bid.

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