Scotland courts Tour

Successful '07 UK depart inspires

Scottish officials are campaigning to have the Tour de France come to Scotland within the next few years.

"It would be amazing, and I think it is realistic," said Scottish Tour veteran David Millar.

The summer marathon on two-wheels staged a major success this year with huge crowds turing out to see the time-trial prologue in London followed by a first stage down to the Channel coast.

And with cycling a boom sport north of the border, the National events agency EventScotland believes the time is ripe to lure the Tour.

The organisation's corporate communications manager Leon Thompson told The Scotsman newspaper: "We've had the early conversations about the possibility of hosting the `Grand Depart' in Scotland.

"It's an iconic world-class event, and the kind of event that would sit very well within our portfolio of major events," Thompson added. "We haven't discussed possible years yet, or where it might happen."

Scottish officials are currently active on several fronts trying to bring top-class sports events to the country and they scored a notable success last month with Glasgow winning the right to stage the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The Scottish Government have also backed a feasibility study to determine whether Scotland could stage football's European Championships in 2016.

The Scotsman reported that Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme had been made aware of Scotland's interest in staging the prologue and first stage.

The soonest Scotland could get involved, however, would be 2010, as Tour officials have confirmed the event will start in Brittany and Monaco in the next two years.

© Bikeradar & AFP 2007

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