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Politicians in Northern Ireland and Wales want Tour de France

Devolved governments exploring bids to bring cycling's biggest race back to the UK...

Politicians in Wales and Northern Ireland say they want to bring the Tour de France to their respective countries, citing the success of last year’s Grand Depart in Yorkshire. Scotland is already reportedly planning a bid for the Grand Depart after Edinburgh missed out to Yorkshire for last year’s race.

Speaking in a Senedd debate last week, the Welsh Assembly Government’s deputy minister for culture, tourism and sport, Ken Skates, said “Wales should seek to host the Tour de France."

But according to a report on Wales Online, the potential benefits of bidding to host the start of the race would need to be examined first, with Mr Skates saying it would “need to be subject of a robust cost benefit analysis before reaching any final decision on a potential bid.”

He also addressed the possibility of the country bidding for the Commonwealth Games, saying: “We are continuing to work on a detailed feasibility study in relation to a potential bid for the 2026 Games. The key issues remain likely costs and benefits to Wales.”

Last July’s opening two days of the Tour de France in Yorkshire brought unprecedented crowds out to watch the Grand Depart, bringing more than £100 million to the region’s economy.

Meanwhile, the 1.5 million people watching the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire from the roadside earlier this month over the three days of the race shows the drawing power of top-flight to people in the UK, even if not all understand the nuances of the sport.

Edinburgh, which had the backing of the government and British Cycling, was beaten in its bid for the 2014 Grand Depart, but is determined to stage it in future.

And across the Irish Sea, Northern Ireland sports minister Caral Ni Chuilin has outlined plans to build on last year’s Giro d’Italia Big Start in Belfast by bringing events including the Tour de France to the country.

Northern Ireland is already due to host golf’s Open Championship and the Women’s Rugby World Cup, and according to the Belfast Telegraph, there are rumours the Giro may return.

But Ni Chuilin wants to bring cycling’s biggest race – the world’s largest annual sporting event – to the country.

She told the newspaper: "We should always aim high in trying to attract big sporting events here,” she said. “Why not aim for the Tour de France? It's been to Yorkshire, so why not here?

"When talks first came up about bringing the Giro d'Italia here there were people saying it could not be done, but I would always say there is no reason why we can't so let's explore it.

"I would say the same for the Tour de France. Let's go for it and see what happens.

"This island is a beautiful island and there is scenery to boast about and a tourism product north, south, east and west.

"We have the infrastructure and now on the back of the Giro we have great experience under our belts and we have shown we can deliver international and world events," she went on.

She said that hosting the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017 would boost the economy of Northern Ireland, which for decades was shunned by organisers of international events due to the Troubles.

"The sporting side, and the spectacle of it, will be incredible but from an economic viewpoint it is also very important.

“People will come here from all over the world to watch the tournament, they will take up hotel beds and spend money which means local businesses can benefit from it as well as sports fans."

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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8 comments

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Exup | 8 years ago
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The Giro in Belfast was excellent and was very well supported by cyclists and non-cyclists alike.
It stimulated the growth of cycling no end; today there is, like the rest of the UK, a major resurgence in people getting onto bikes. The local government are also trying to put in infrastructure, such as cycle lanes, Boris bikes, bus lane cameras, etc.
However, my biggest bugbear and soap box, is that they are not creating a SAFE environment: No active Policing with dangerous motorists and no dog control in public places. The risk created, is that the additional cyclists, many of which are occasional 'leisure' cyclists who don't mix with traffic daily, will be hurt or killed; this will very quickly quell the cycling enthusiasm we have built today.
If the Tour was to come to this part of the UK, it would be well supported, but the benefits would need to be properly articulated & fostered once the Tour leaves. No point creating a frenzy of new cyclists, with nowhere safe to practice the pastime. A joined up cycling strategy seems to be missing, not just in Northern Ireland, but the rest of the UK too.

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GREGJONES | 8 years ago
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I'd like to see the tour of Britain visit more of Britain

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farrell replied to GREGJONES | 8 years ago
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GREGJONES wrote:

I'd like to see the tour of Britain visit more of Britain

To be fair to the Tour of Britain, it's up to towns and cities to offer or bid for stages (or at least that's my understanding, I'm willing to be corrected).

That's why I don't bother getting frustrated with them for stages never coming near Manchester as it's not their fault the local authority can't be arsed putting something together for it.

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vonhelmet replied to farrell | 8 years ago
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farrell wrote:
GREGJONES wrote:

I'd like to see the tour of Britain visit more of Britain

To be fair to the Tour of Britain, it's up to towns and cities to offer or bid for stages (or at least that's my understanding, I'm willing to be corrected).

That's why I don't bother getting frustrated with them for stages never coming near Manchester as it's not their fault the local authority can't be arsed putting something together for it.

We've got it coming to Derbyshire and the Trough of Bowland this year, so it's not totally out of reach for Manchester folk.

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farrell replied to vonhelmet | 8 years ago
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vonhelmet wrote:
farrell wrote:

That's why I don't bother getting frustrated with them for stages never coming near Manchester as it's not their fault the local authority can't be arsed putting something together for it.

We've got it coming to Derbyshire and the Trough of Bowland this year, so it's not totally out of reach for Manchester folk.

And I'm looking forward to going up to Clit Heroe this year, and I have enjoyed riding down to Stoke to watch it there too, it would just be nice to have it on my doorstep without having to take days off work etc.

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kitkat | 8 years ago
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In NI it'd be good to see the Tour of Britain come through a time or two which would help set the scene a bit

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antonio | 8 years ago
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Amazing how politicians want to jump on the backs of cyclists at successful public events yet want to give so little in return.

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congokid replied to antonio | 8 years ago
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antonio wrote:

Amazing how politicians want to jump on the backs of cyclists at successful public events yet want to give so little in return.

Completely agree. They're like moths, attracted to a flashy big bright event, which will probably be a one-off in their lifetime, and are prepared to squander millions to attract both it and the relatively short-lived recognition it entails in the hope that it brings some kind of payback.

But they could achieve even more by building decent infrastructure that everyone could use, which would not only enable active transport for their own people, with all the health benefits and health services savings that brings, but also provide a longer lasting attraction for tourism.

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