London has turned down the opportunity to host the 2017 Tour de France Grand Depart, pulling out of the bid at the last minute and no doubt angering the organisers.
The capital city beat bids from UK cities Manchester and Edinburgh, as well as those from several other nations – but pulled out just before contracts could be signed.
Transport for London (TfL) have cited concerns over funding as the reason for the decision. The Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL, Leon Daniels, has said that though previous visits from the Tour had been “amazing” and inspired thousands of cyclists, its return would always be “subject to funding.” He added: “To ensure value for money we must make difficult choices.”
The tour visited London in 2014 – costing £27 million, of which TfL contributed £6 million.
However, a report of Yorkshire’s 2014 Grand Depart “Three Inspirational Days” states that the race attracted 113,000 visitors from outside the UK, earning £33 million for the UK economy, as well as £102 million for Yorkshire and £30 million for other cities involved, including £19.5 million for London who hosted one race finish.
The decision raises difficult questions for the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who has previously shown dedication to supporting cycling, for example via the Ride London Festival of Cycling.
Labour candidate for Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has said: “By not hosting the iconic Tour de France, the Mayor and the Government are wasting a huge opportunity to show London to the world. The Tour is one of the world’s greatest sporting events. Londoners deserve to know why it’s been cancelled at the last minute.”
It is expected that the Tour will now be hosted in Germany, and it’s not clear what the future implications will be for pulling out at the last minute.