The Tour de France, which started in Rotterdam in 2010, could be returning to the Netherlands within two years, with the 102nd edition of the race in 2015 rumoured to be starting in the city of Utrecht. Milan has also expressed an intesrets in hosting the race.
If either bid is confirmed as successful, it would mean a second successive foreign Grand Départ for the race, which starts in Yorkshire next summer, breaking with the convention that the race only starts outside France every two or three years.
Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad claims that Tour organisers ASO have already agreed to award the start of the race in 2015 to Utrecht, although the article raises concerns over how the estimated €10 million cost of staging the Grand Départ will be met.
As Tour de France route-watcher Thomas Vergouwen points out on his Velowire website, Utrecht missed out in 2010 because it was considered to be too far from Brussels, where organisers ASO wanted to have a stage finish.
However, he adds that the city has kept in touch with race director Christian Prudhomme regarding hosting the race in the future.
He also raises the question over the willingness of French cities and regions to commit budgets to hosting the opening days of the race, in 2015, due to municipal elections being held in France next March.
As for Milan, speaking earlier this month about its preparations to host Expo 2015, the city’s mayor Giovanni Pisapia said: “We are also working to bring a stage of the Tour de France.”Given the distance between Milan and the French border, it seems unlikely that the Italian city could host a stage unless it formed part of a Grand Départ.
Historically, of course, Milan is closely linked with the Giro d’Italia, with organisers RCS based in the city, as is the Gazzetta dello Sport, which the group also owns.
In recent years, however, the relationship between race organisers and the city authorities has been strained, as highlighted by this year’s race ending in Brescia, with next year’s scheduled to finish in Trieste, and Milan being missed out altogether on both occasions.
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.