London in pole position for 2007 Tour

omentum behind the bid to bring the Tour de France to London in 2007 seems to be building, with tod

omentum behind the bid to bring the Tour de France to London in 2007 seems to be building, with tod
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Although a final decision on the location of the start for the 2007 Tour de France won't be known until late next year, this morning's British press are trumpeting the likelihood of the race starting in London. According to the lead sports story in today's Guardian, French officials have said that London's bid for the Tour prologue appears to be in pole position ahead of applications from Herning in Denmark, Utrecht and Rotterdam in Holland, and Lugano in Switzerland. London's final application for the right to host the 2007 Tour prologue was handed over by mayor Ken Livingstone to Tour boss Jean-Marie Leblanc at a dinner to mark a century of the Entente Cordiale in London's City Hall last month. Livingstone said of the application, "We would guarantee the Tour de France one of the most spectacular grands departs." Officials backing the London bid believe that more than two million fans would be drawn to the British capital by the Tour, and that the event would provide a considerable boost in London't bid to attract the 2012 Olympics. When initial plans were drawn up to bring the Tour to Britain for the first time since a very successful visit in 1994, it was envisaged that as well as the prologue there would be two road stages in southern England. This plan was amended following intimations from the Tour organisation that they would not want to spend three days abroad at the start of the race. The current plan foresees a prologue in central London with the backdrop of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye. The following day's opening road stage would take the race through Kent to one of the Channel ports, from where the race would head into France. Senior L'Equipe cycling journalist Philippe Bouvet told the Guardian: "I think the Tour organisers will do everything they can to go to London because it is a lot less complicated than Denmark, which is a good candidate but will present logistical difficulties in getting the riders back to France." Bouvet continued: "The Entente Cordiale tourist event was not insignificant because it means the Tour organisers are keen for the project to come to fruition. The organisers like the export the Tour."
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