London has made a late decision to reject the chance to stage the Grand Depart of the 2017 Tour de France, with Germany now reportedly set to assume the hosting rights to the opening rounds of the cycling showpiece.
Tour de France organiser Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) in July said London and Manchester were among three British cities to have placed bids to host the 2017 Grand Depart, with the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, also said to be in contention.
UK broadcaster the BBC said London defeated bids from its two British rivals, along with several German regions. However, last week, a day before contracts were due to be signed, Transport for London (TfL) said it was withdrawing from contention.
“To ensure value for money we must make difficult choices,” Leon Daniels, managing director of surface transport at TfL, told BBC Sport. “We have always said that the return of the Tour was subject to funding.”
As the organisation responsible for all transport policy in the English capital, TfL would have provided the funding for hosting the opening stages of the 2017 Tour. London hosted a hugely successful Grand Depart in 2007 and the finish of the 2014 Tour's third stage. That edition of the event opened up with two stages in the county of Yorkshire, which were held to huge acclaim.
The BBC said TfL contributed £6m (€8.2m/$9.25m) to the 2014 Grand Depart budget of £27m, which was almost as much as the total for two days of racing in 2007. The broadcaster added that TfL and the Greater London Authority, its parent body, decided the city could not afford the 2017 Grand Depart given the upfront costs and the potential for substantial cuts to transport spending across the UK later this year.
Utrecht in the Netherlands launched the 2015 Tour de France, which will begin at Mont-Saint-Michel on France’s north coast next year. It is believed that the 2017 Tour will again open up outside France, but with Germany the destination instead of the UK.