The anticipation and excitement building at the world’s most recognisable and popular cycling event racing this weekend through the streets of London and the Kent countryside, has been made possible in part through funding support from UK Sport.
UK Sport has committed up to £500,000 of Lottery funding towards staging the ‘Grand Depart’ of the Tour de France in the UK this year. The award is part of a total of over £3 million of Lottery money it distributes each year to support the bidding and staging costs of major events, as well as providing specialist support to organisers.
Speaking ahead of the Tour’s opening, UK Sport’s International Director John Scott, said:
“Securing the Grand Depart for the UK reinforces the positive contribution that UK Sport continues to make in attracting major sporting events to home soil. The continued successful operation our National Lottery funded World Class Events Programme has only strengthened our ability and experience to work in partnership with host cities and National Governing Bodies to ensure that events such as this become a reality.”
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, with around £20 million of Lottery funding committed to targeting around 150 more before 2012, including 28 World Championships and 27 European Championships.
In addition to the Tour de France, and earlier funding for the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Birmingham, UK Sport is supporting a total of 17 events in 2007. Four world championships are already secured for 2008, using UK Sport investment and expertise: the World Track Cycling Championships, the World Squash Championships and the World Short Course Swimming Championships, which will all be held in Manchester, and the World Cross Country Championships, being staged in Edinburgh.
“Fans will witness a unique sporting spectacle this weekend. This is a great opportunity before 2012 to demonstrate that we have the aspiration, knowledge and skill to host the biggest sports events in the world,” added Scott.
This weekend’s activities begin with an opening ceremony on July 6 commencing at 6:00pm in Trafalgar Square. The ceremony will be a free public celebration of the Tour de France's inaugural arrival in London.