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Hampshire city in discussions for joint bid with Caen in Normandy plus Brittany Ferries

The Tour de France could be heading back to Portsmouth for the second time in the race's history under plans revealed by the leader of the Hampshire city’s council for a joint bid with twin city Caen in Normandy and shipping line Britanny Ferries.

According to Portsmouth News, preliminary discussions have already been held about bidding to host part of the 2018 edition of the race, which visited the city in 1994. 

In that year, Portsmouth hosted the start and finish of Stage 5, the second of two stages on the south coast, with the previous day seeing the peloton ride from Dover to Brighton.

The race transferred onto British soil via the newly opened Channel Tunnel, with Brittany Ferries the official partner for the sea transfer back to the French port of St Malo.

Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Donna Jones, told Portsmouth news: “It would bring millions to Portsmouth and project images of Portsmouth around the world.

“It will reinforce confidence that Portsmouth is a changing place that’s aiming really high and has high aspirations for itself.

“What we need to be doing is sending a message to local businesses and any business thinking of relocating that Portsmouth is the place to be.

She continued: “I would expect given the success of the Tour de France that visitor numbers would be higher on the south coast as we are only a few hours away from France.

“I would expect the boost to the local economy would be well in excess of £100 million.”

That’s the same amount that Yorkshire was expecting to benefit from through hosting last year’s Grand Départ, suggesting securing the opening days of the race is Portsmouth’s target.

Portsmouth will be hosting America’s Cup World Series yacht racing over the next two years, and Councillor Jones added: “This would be another exciting event in our calendar.”

Brittany Ferries group commercial director, Mike Bevens, said: “We’ve enjoyed positive early discussions with Portsmouth City Council regarding working together and the feasibility of bringing the Tour de France to Portsmouth.

“We are looking forward to taking these discussions further and assessing the viability of this project.

“Brittany Ferries has a long association of working with this iconic race; when it last came to Portsmouth in 1994 we had the honour of being the official sea carrier.

“The British love affair with race cycling is at an all-time high following the London Olympics and 2014 Tour stages in the north of England and London.

‘We think it’s high time that the race returned to Portsmouth and look forward to playing our part.”

Councillor Jones said she believed that bringing the race back to Portsmouth could also help boost cycling as a means of transport there.

“It’s about trying to make Portsmouth an accessible city from a cycling perspective,” she explained.

“It’s about helping people’s health and getting them fitter, easing congestion and improving the air quality and bringing down pollution levels.

“Having the Tour de France here, I can see people who haven’t cycled for 30 years going out on their bikes because of how inspired they would be by this amazing event.”

According to Portsmouth News, the council will hold meetings with its opposite numbers in Caen and Brittany Ferries in the coming weeks to draw up detailed proposals including a cost-benefit analysis before presenting a preliminary bid to race organisers, ASO.

The success of last year’s Tour de France has led to renewed interest elsewhere in the UK to bringing the race back here.

Edinburgh – which lost out to Yorkshire in staging the start of last year’s race – is looking at bidding again, while Newcastle and Gateshead councils have both said they would back a bid from the north east of England.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

13 comments

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guildwheeler [31 posts] 2 years ago
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A thinly veiled attempt at getting Wiggle to change their mind about re-locating to the Midlands??

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justinberman [35 posts] 2 years ago
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Remember seeing the Tour pass through Pompey as a 15 year old. Would be good to see this happen again... Maybe this will give the council a kick up the backside as far as sorting out the cycling infrastructure around the city!

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Must be Mad [617 posts] 2 years ago
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Please please please please please please please....

.... send the route through the New Forest  21

Go on. You know you want to.

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Gus T [316 posts] 2 years ago
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Must be Mad wrote:

Please please please please please please please....

.... send the route through the New Forest  21

Go on. You know you want to.

What & give the New Forrest NIMBY's prime time television to disrupt the race, I'd rather the whole place was fenced off and people only allowed to leave if riding a bike.  19

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Awavey [327 posts] 2 years ago
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if so can they please route via the New Forest for a bit I hear they like cycling events lots round there  4

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earth [357 posts] 2 years ago
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I saw the Tour, and the amateur ride the week before, come past my house in 1994 when I was at uni in Pompey. I wasn't into cycling at the time but thought it was a spectacle and a good tourist draw for a day. The locals at uni moaned about how the roads had been closed and ambulances had to detour. If it comes again I think I will spend a few days in Pompey and reminisce.

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chokofingrz [407 posts] 2 years ago
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The finish line of the stage could be on the loading ramp of a Brittany Ferry? And riders not making the time cut would drop into the sea...  39

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bobinski [277 posts] 2 years ago
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I think the Tour organisers should only offer stages to Towns etc. that have demonstrated a commitment to integrating cycling into their road networks. It shouldn't be the promise of integration but actual integration.

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jimbudd [12 posts] 2 years ago
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The council would have an awful lot of pot holes and other road repairs to undertake for any potential race in this area. A route starting and finishing on Portsea island, going up through the South Downs would be great though.

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gareth2510 [167 posts] 2 years ago
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Be lovely to see the Tour go up Buster Hill  1

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darrenleroy [246 posts] 2 years ago
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And come down Butser Hill.  1

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hallamhash [21 posts] 2 years ago
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Is there an election coming up? Cllr Jones all talk once again I suspect

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Housecathst [600 posts] 2 years ago
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Must be Mad wrote:

Please please please please please please please....

.... send the route through the New Forest  21

Go on. You know you want to.

Brilliant, I've just snotted coffee all over my iPad..... Brilliant