Tour de France organisers ASO is one of six bidders that also include the owner of the Etape Cymru and a joint venture including the organisers of the Tour of Britain shortlisted to run the London Festival of Cycling, the two-day Olympic legacy event set to debut in August 2013 and which includes a 100-mile elite road combined with a mass participation ride with a field of 35,000 and a family ride with 70,000 participants.
Joining ASO on the shortlist are five other bidders with solid experience of staging races, mass participation events or both – IMG, Nova International and Upsolut plus two joint ventures, one between Limelight Sports and Participate Sport, the other between the organisers of the Tour of Britain and the London Marathon.
The six shortlisted bidders now have until the middle or April to deliver detailed proposals for the event, with the successful bid being announced prior to this summer’s Olympics.
Planned to be held annually, the two-day festival poses unique challenges for potential organisers due to the scale of the public rides – the mass participation ride will challenge the Cape Argus as the world’s largest such event – plus the elite race, which British Cycling hopes will be added to the UCI World Calendar.
Most of the bidders demonstrate experience of running mass participation cycling events as well as elite cycle races, including that from ASO, which is owner of some of the biggest one-day races in the sport including Paris-Roubaix as well as organisng the Etape du Tour.
The company brought the Grand Depart of the Tour de France to London and Kent in 2007, but the staging of the event itself in the capital was carried out on behalf of Transport for London by a joint venture between Innovision and Tour of Britain organisers, SweetSpot, which also puts on the Tour Rides.
The latter is bidding for the Olympic Legacy event as part of the London & Surrey Cycling Partnership together with the organisers of the London Marathon, who will also be involved in the sporting side of the marathon and walking events at London 2012.
Also bidding is German company Upsolut, which stages Hamburg’s Vattenfall Cyclassics WorldTour-ranked elite race and plus a mass participation ride which is the largest such event in Europe. The company also organised the Triathlon ITU World Championship London Olympic Test Event.
Another joint venture bid comes from Limelight Sports and Participate Sport. The former organises events in the UK and Australia including the Sky Ride series, and has been appointed sub-contractor for the Olympic Road Races this summer – which take place on the same route that will mainly be followed by riders in the legacy event.
Participate, meanwhile, is run by former staff of sports marketing agency IMG with strong experience in staging mass participation events, and its portfolio includes the Etape Cymru, the Cycletta series of women-only rides and the forthcoming Festival of Sport - Cornwall.
The company’s chief executive, Nicholas Rusling, told road.cc: “"Participate Sport, although only formed in 2010 have been delivering mass participation events across cycling, triathlon and running for many years.
“The London Legacy Ride offers the single most exciting annual opportunity for sport in the UK as a showcase to inspire millions of people to ride and get active.
“Participate is intent on getting more people into cycling, the Cycletta women only rides backing this commitment, and the stars seem to be aligning for the sport with the London event at the forefront - exciting times."
One of the other two comes from IMG itself, which organises the Etape Caledonia and Etape Pennines but announced last week that it had ended its involvement in the Sky Ride Etape Hibernia due to lower than anticipated entry numbers since its launch in 2010.
The remaining bid is from Nova International, which owns the Great North Run and also recently announced the Great Manchester Cycle event to be held in June.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “The high quality of the shortlisted organisations is a clear demonstration of their confidence in London’s ability to host a world class cycle festival.
“With the Games just around the corner, the investment to date is already paying off, and my team is hard at work developing the events that will help us showcase our great city to the world for many years to come.”
Iain Edmondson, Head of Major Events at London & Partners, who is also Project Director for the Festival of Cycling commented: "We have set an ambitious vision for one of the world's biggest cycling events as a major Olympic legacy, and we are honoured to have the world's best event organisers willing to invest in turning this vision into a reality.
“The prize for the successful organisation is huge as they will be at the heart of creating a new global event for London to rival the best of the city's existing annual sporting 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.