Ireland withdraws bid to host future Tour de France Grand Départ due to ‘funding reductions’

Initial bid was planned in order to host start of race in 2026 or 2027

Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A planned bid from the whole of Ireland to host the start of the Tour de France in either 2026 or 2027 has been withdrawn due to “funding reductions”. 

According to a report from the BBC, an initial expression of interest in the formal bidding process was made to the race organiser – Amaury Sport Organisation – by Catherine Martin, Irish minister for tourism, culture, arts, sports and media. 

Northern Ireland economy minister Gordon Lyons was also involved in the process. 

The report states that the Department for the Economy [DfE] confirmed that it would not be possible to progress the interest any further at this moment in time due to a lack of clarity regarding their financial position in the years ahead. 

A statement, from the DfE, said: "Unfortunately, due to funding reductions this year and a lack of certainty about the budget position in future years, the Department for the Economy had to take the decision that it could not progress to the development of a feasibility study for the all-island bid to host the Tour De France, Le Grand Depart in 2026 or 2027.

"The Department does not rule out taking part in a future feasibility assessment of co-hosting this event, should the opportunity arise."

If any bid had been successful it would have been the first time the race had visited Ireland since 1998. 

During a recent debate in the Dáil, Irish sports minister Thomas Byrne explained that the DfE had notified his department during the summer that work had ceased on the bid to bring the Tour back to Irish soil. 

He said: "The Tour de France is the biggest cycling race in the world and, during 2022, minister Martin engaged with her counterpart in Northern Ireland, the then-minister for the economy, regarding a potential joint bid to co-host the opening three stages of the race, the Grand Depart.

"Departmental officials engaged with counterparts in Northern Ireland and established a project group to scope out the details of a possible bid.

"In July 2023 the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland wrote to my department to advise that it had decided to cease work on the potential for a joint bid.

"As any hosting bid was envisaged as a north-south all-island initiative my department is no longer pursuing a bid and this has been communicated to the event organisers.

"Should the opportunity arise again to consider a bid to host the Grand Départ, whether jointly or singly, the experience gained in the process outlined above will be of use to any such future consideration."

The 2024 edition of the Tour de France is due to start in Florence, Italy later this year on 29 June. 

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