London out of running for 2017 Tour de France Grand Depart


London has turned down the opportunity to host the Tour de France Grand Depart in 2017 because it would not offer value for money, Transport for London confirmed.

The capital was asked to host the world's most prestigious cycling race 10 years on from its hugely successful staging of the Tour, and three years after hosting a stage finish of the 2014 edition which began in Leeds.

Speaking of the decision to decline hosting duties in 2017, Leon Daniels, managing director of surface transport at TfL, said hosting the events in 2007 and 2014 had been "amazing", and that thousands of new cyclists had been inspired.

He added: "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 Depart in 2017."

The Tour's visit to the UK last July was watched by crowds totalling 4.8 million people and generated around £128 million, according to the Three Inspirational Days, published last December.

The Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour attracted massive crowds on the weekend of July 5 and 6 in Yorkshire as the riders went first from Leeds to Harrogate, through the Yorkshire Dales, and then from York to Sheffield.

The report said a quarter of everyone living in the Yorkshire and the Humber region came out to watch and the Tour attracted 113,000 visitors from outside the UK, generating £33 million into the UK economy.

It also found the Grand Depart generated more than £128 million of economic benefit for the host areas overall, with £102 million for Yorkshire and £30 million for Cambridgeshire, Essex and London.

Of this, £19.5 million was generated for London.

However, it said the overall economic benefit figure is expected to top £150m due to the effect of increased tourism and long term trade deals.

The 2015 race, won by Chris Froome, started in Utrecht, the Netherlands 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 Depart and Tour organiser Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) is keen to exploit Britain's love of the sport.

It remains to be seen how London's decision impacts on ASO's plans to bring the race back to the UK in future.