Tour de France may see UK stages in 2014
Updated: Saturday, 17 Nov 2012 20:08
British Cycling and EventScotland are in advanced negotiations to bring the Tour de France to Britain for four days in 2014.
Tour organisers Amaury Sports Organisation are keen to capitalise on the successes of Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish by bringing cycling's most fabled race across the channel for the first time since 2007.
Four road stages, beginning in Edinburgh, incorporating an all-Welsh third stage and a finale in south east England would take the Tour to within one hour of 50% of the British population.
Should the bid succeed - and ASO could reveal it in the next few weeks - 2014 would be a bumper year for sport in Scotland, with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Perthshire.
Funding for the event, which would cost in the region of £10million, would be likely to come from the public purse - Scottish and Welsh governments, UK Sport and cities and towns who would stage the event - with further investigations into commercial contracts should the bid be successful.
The idea was first mooted in a meeting between EventScotland chief Paul Bush and Tour director Christian Prudhomme during the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France, projected towards 2016 or 2017.
The initial idea was for an Edinburgh prologue, like the one held in London in 2007 when one million people lined the streets of the capital, but that has now been shelved in order to take the race to as much of the country as possible.
"In the ideal world you would have everything," international events director for EventScotland Stuart Turner said.
"I don't think it's disappointing. To take the race to as much of the country as we could and as close to as many people as we could, probably gave more reason for the ASO to say yes.
"You've got to be ready to do it when they're ready to do it. They'll decide when they're going to bring it.
"We can do as much as we can to make a persuasive offer, but ultimately it's their decision."
The 2013 Tour is the 100th edition and takes place entirely in France, starting in Corsica on June 29.
The bid is flexible in terms of the year - sooner rather than later is favoured - and detail of the route, but proposed start and finish locations, plus transfers, have been studied by ASO, who visited as recently as last month.
The first stage would finish in south east Scotland or north east England, with the potential for a sprint finish which could see Mark Cavendish take the race leader's yellow jersey.
There is also the desire for a route which shakes up the general classification standings while the race is in the UK.
Jonny Clay, the cycle sport and membership director at British Cycling, said: "It (the route) would be something that would make a bit of a mess."
There is a potential complication the shape of a rival bid.
Welcome to Yorkshire are aiming to bring the Tour's Grand Depart to the UK, without co-operating with British Cycling.
"We've tried very hard; we couldn't engage," Clay added.
"Our first formal meeting - British Cycling and Welcome To Yorkshire - after several attempts was in Liege at the Grand Depart this year.
"It's kind of daft to have two bids going in for the same years.
"All we could really go was encourage Yorkshire to be part of a Scottish start.
"But you've got to understand it from their perspective. That's not then the Grand Depart.
"It's not a criticism that they still want to go ahead with their Grand Depart bid."
Clay is uncertain of the details of the Yorkshire bid, but would be pleased if it succeeds.
He added: "If Yorkshire come through and win this, great. From British Cycling's perspective it's just good that it's coming.
"We're backing what we think is the best bid."