Tour in London
Yesterday's Tour de France presentation was a very slick affair and many references to entente cordial and our special relationship between the two countries went down very well with the mainstream press. The details are now confirmed and after an 8 km prologue in the heart of the british capital, the riders will compete in the first stage on Sunday July 8th on a 209 km long course crossing the county of Kent to finish in Canterbury.
And the Tour has already been in England for a stage in 1974 (Plymouth – Plymouth, Henk Poppe’s victory), and then for two others in 1994 (victories for Francisco Cabello and Nicola Minali in Brighton and Portsmouth). It is, however, the first visit to the capital and the first Grand Depart.
The previous starts of the Tour outside of France:
1954: Amsterdam (Netherland)
1958: Bruxelles (Belgium)
1965: Cologne (Germany)
1973: Scheveningen (Netherlands)
1975: Charleroi (Belgium)
1978: Leiden (Netherland)
1980: Francfort (Germany)
1982: Bâle (Switzerland)
1987: Berlin (Germany)
1992: Saint-Sébastien (Spain)
1996: s'Hertogenbosch (Netherland)
1998: Dublin (Ireland)
2004: Liège (Belgium)
The opening ceremony where the teams will be presented will be organized at Trafalgar Square on Friday July 6th. Maps and full details are available from the excellent www.tourdefrancelondon.com website. There's even a TT game, which we're all rubbish at...
The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said:
"The Tour de France coming to London in 2007 is great news for sport in the capital and underlines the city's ability to host prestigious international sporting events. It will help promote cycling, which is on the rise in London, and the capital's streets will provide a superb backdrop to one of the greatest sporting events in the world. When the Grand Départ gets here next summer, it will receive the biggest welcome from the fastest growing cycling city in Europe."
he also added that "Having the Grand Depart on the seventh of July will broadcast to the world that terrorism does not shake our city. There can be no better way of celebrating the unity of humanity than this great sporting event coming to us on that day and being seen by millions, safety and happily."
As for the riders
Chris Boardman, former Tour de France yellow jersey wearer and Prologue stage winner, and now an elite coach with British Cycling's GB Team, welcomed the news:
“My prologue stage wins were some of the most memorable victories of my career. The prospect of the Tour starting in London is very exciting. My work with British Cycling's Olympic Talent Team has convinced me that bringing the Tour to the UK will be of huge value to the sport and an inspiration to a whole generation of young cyclists."
Olympic Gold Medallist Bradley Wiggins said:
“For me, riding the Tour de France in front of a home crowd is right up their with the Olympics coming to London as a potential highlight of my career. The Tour is the biggest cycling event in the world and to compete in it in my home city is a dream. I'd love to win the Tour Prologue and to wear the Yellow Jersey on British soil would be an amazing experience!"
• Pictures all by www.gerardbrown.co.uk
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