London says no to hosting 2017 Grand Depart

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Marcel Kittel won the 2015 Tour de France’s stage 3 in London. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

LONDON (AFP) — London has rejected the chance to host the Tour de France Grand Départ in 2017, Transport for London revealed on Monday. The English capital was asked to host part of the world’s most prestigious cycling race again after previous successful visits in the 2007 and 2014 editions.

London hosted the 2007 Grand Départ and hosted the finish for the third stage of the 2014 Tour, which began in Leeds.

But the race won’t be returning in two years time, according to Leon Daniels, managing director of surface transport at Transport for London (TfL), which  London, who is reported to have pulled out a day before contracts were due to be signed.

“We have loved hosting the Tour de France in 2007 and 2014, both of which were amazing events that inspired thousands of new cyclists and showcased London as a world-class city for cycling,” Daniels said. “We have always said that the return of the Tour was subject to funding. To ensure value for money we must make difficult choices, and on this occasion we have decided that we will not be hosting the Grand Départ in 2017.”

The first two stages of last year’s Tour were held in Yorkshire, attracting an estimated four million spectators and boosting the economy by £100 million ($151,716,000).

TfL contributed £6 million ($9,102,960) to the Grand Départ  Depart budget of £27 million ($40,963,320).

With the possibility of major cuts to transport spending across the United Kingdom, it is believed TfL and the Greater London Authority, decided the city could not afford a third visit from the Tour.

The 2015 race, won by Chris Froome, started in Utrecht, Holland and the 2016 edition begins in the Manche region, near Mont St. Michel, in northern France. Edinburgh and Manchester have also noted interest in hosting the Grand Départ and Tour organizer Amaury Sport Organisation remains keen to take advantage of Britain’s love of the sport.

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