Efforts to bring the Grand Départ of the Tour de France to Scotland are being stepped up with EventScotland confirming that it is working on a formal bid to be presented to race organisers ASO with a view to staging the start of the race in 2017.
As reported here on road.cc during last July’s edition of the Tour de France, representatives of Scotland’s national events agency have been in discussions with ASO for some time regarding the country hosting the showpiece sporting event of its partner in the ‘Auld Alliance,’ with Garmin-Cervélo’s David Millar potentially lined up as bid ambassador.
Now, the newspaper Scotland on Sunday reports that EventScotland has targeted the 2017 edition of the race, which it says represents the next opportunity for a foreign country to bid to host the start of race, which begins in Liège, Belgium in 2012 and is almost certain to start on Corsica in 2013.
Having said that, as we reported earlier this month, Florence is hoping to stage the Grand Départ in 2014, but even if the Tuscan city won the right to do that, it shouldn’t preclude a bid from Scotland to host it three years later – that’s the same gap between London staging the Prologue in 2007 and Rotterdam doing so last year.
As to where the race might visit in Scotland, Edinburgh and Glasgow would be likely for the chance to host any Prologue – the capital’s Royal Mile and Princes Street in particular would provide an obvious and visually stunning circuit – but given the distance between the two cities, you’d imagine there to be a stage starting in one and finishing in the other, perhaps visiting the Trossachs and skirting Loch Lomond on the way.
While there is obviously more of a logistical headache involved in starting the race in Scotland compared to the Low Countries or even South East England, location of 2007’s Grand Départ, the fact that the 1998 race began in Ireland shows that these are far from insurmountable.
Paul Bush, Chief Executive of EventScotland, confirmed to Scotland on Sunday that his organisation was working on a bid, saying: "We think the event is a natural fit for Scotland with the history of the Auld Alliance and we've already had three meetings with the race organisers about a possible bid.
"The event would have a huge impact if it was held here. The tour would probably be based in the host city for up to a week before the first stage started and the impact on the economy would be huge."
EventScotland has already succeeded in bringing the 2014 Commonwealth Games to Glasgow, and is looking to use that as a platform to bring further high-profile sporting and cultural events to the country.
Mr Bush added: "We want to position Scotland as one of the best locations in the world to host an event over the next few years.
"There are some events, like the Olympics or the World Cup, that Scotland will never be able to host but we are trying to bring more events and the building of the Scottish National Arena for the Commonwealth Games will make a huge difference in attracting major events."
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.