UK Sport is delighted with the decision to award the UK the rights to host the first stage of the 2007 Tour de France, one of the most high profile sporting events in the world.
As the organisation responsible for co-ordinating major sports events on home soil, UK Sport has committed £500,000 of Lottery funding towards staging the cost of this event. The funding was made possible through UK Sport’s World Class Events Programme, which distributes approximately £1.6 million of Lottery money each year to support the bidding and staging costs of major events, as well as providing specialist support to organisers.
A three-day cycling bonanza is planned to celebrate the competition, culminating in Stage One of the Tour itself, a five-hour race from central London to Canterbury in Kent on Sunday 8th July 2007.
John Scott, UK Sport’s International Director said:
"UK Sport is delighted to have contributed half a million pounds of Lottery money through our World Class Events Programme to the Tour de France, which is not only an iconic cycling competition, but is also the largest and most popular annual spectator event in the sporting calendar. The British public will have the opportunity to watch in awe as 200 of the world’s elite cyclists start their campaign to win one of the toughest sporting competitions in the world.
"Hosting Stage One gives the UK a fantastic opportunity to promote cycling and showcase the city of London and the County of Kent as world-class venues. Additionally, the economic impact of the three-day festival will result in millions of pounds being contributed to the South-East region."
The annual competition attracts a global television audience of 100 million as the 22 professional teams embark on a three-week long challenge, finishing on the Champs Elysees in Paris.
This is not the first time that the Tour de France has graced British shores; in 1974 Plymouth hosted a mid-race stage, with two stages being held in the UK in 1994.
Speaking at the 'Grand Depart’ launch this morning, the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said:
"The Tour 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."
The news that the tour will start in London was enthusiastically received by Team GB’s cycling hero in Athens, Bradley Wiggins:
"For me, riding the Tour de France in front of a home crowd is right up there 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."
UK Sport’s World Class Events Programme aims to secure events of strategic importance that deliver a range of lasting benefits. These include economic, social and cultural benefits as well as improving sporting performance by home athletes, encouraging participation and leaving a legacy of facilities and development initiatives. Over 100 sporting events have been staged in the UK through the Programme since 1997.