2007 Tour de France to start rolling in London

24th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, Jan 24, 2006 (AFP) - The crown jewel of French sport, the Tour de France, is to start for the first time in London next year, the city's mayor Ken Livingstone confirmed here on Tuesday.

LONDON, Jan 24, 2006 (AFP) - The crown jewel of French sport, the Tour de France, is to start for the first time in London next year, the city's mayor Ken Livingstone confirmed here on Tuesday.

It will be only the third time that the race has come to England in its 103-year history and the first time that the prestigious Grand Depart will be given on English soil.

Livingstone said that London would host the prologue time-trial on July 7, 2007 and the first stage of the race the following day.

The tour finishes as usual on the Champs-Elysées in central Paris on July 23 after criss-crossing the French countryside from the Atlantic Ocean to the Alps.

"I am proud to announce that London has successfully bid to host the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in July 2007," he said.

"Hosting the first stage of the legendary French cycle race will raise the profile of cycling in the capital, attract visitors and promote the capital as a venue for international sporting events.

"Cycling in the capital is growing faster than anywhere else in Europe.

"I want London to become a world-class cycling city and Transport for London has increased investment in cycling from 5.5 million pounds in 2000 to 24 million pounds this year.

"Today's announcement is great news for cycling and for London and we will unveil the route at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference centre on February 9."

The tour has made a habit over the last 50 years of visiting foreign shores for its Grand Depart every three or four years including Amsterdam in 1954, Brussels the following year, Berlin on 1987 and Dublin in 1998.

The Irish capital was the first city outside of continental Europe to stage the tour opener and London will be the second.

London had competition for the right to host the tour opener from Switzerland, the Netherlands and Denmark after announcing its bid in October 2004 on the occasion of the centenary of the Entente Cordial friendship treaty between the two, often squabbling, western European neighbours.

The opening ceremony of the 2007 Tour will take place on July 6 and the route is expected to take in many of London's world-famous landmarks such as Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace.

The prologue time trial takes place on July 7 and the first stage will be on July 8.

 Livingstone said that London would pay tour organisers 1.5 million pounds (EUR 2.2 million) for the right to stage the event which will be beamed out to a huge worldwide TV audience.

The prologue time trial, covering between 8-10km, determines who wears the leader's famous yellow jersey. The first stage is expected to cover 200km in and around London.

Livingstone said hosting the event should be a money-spinner and a better bargain than recent attempts to host a London Grand Prix.

"If you compare what we have paid the Tour de France to win the right to host this with what I was being asked as a contribution to the Grand Prix by Bernie Ecclestone, this is dramatically less," he said.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article