July 05, 2004
2007 London Tour start moves forward
London is bidding to host the opening weekend of the Tour "sometime after 2006." London officials have been in Belgium, visiting the Tour start and talking with Tour officials, this weekend.
Their bid is interesting partly because it's being led by Trasport for London (TfL), the umbrella organization for the Tube, London ferries, and other public transit in the city, with a goal of increasing bicycle transport in the UK:
“The Tour is a fantastic spectacle and will be a fantastic weekend for London,” said Hickford [of TfL], “but what the Mayor really wants to promote is more people cycling generally. We want to get more people cycling as a form of transport, not necessarily racing.
“When the Tour people, including Jean-Marie Leblanc came over they were very enthusiastic about the idea of using the Tour to tackle things like childhood obesity,” said Hickford. “We’re talking about a cultural change in the UK, and the Tour coming over will be a big part of that. We think we’ll get fantastic crowds and that it will be a huge economic boost to London. Our latest estimate gives a spend of about £75 million additional revenue on restaurants, hotels and so on. ”
The rumored stages would be a gorgeous prologue on the Mall, Hyde Park Corner, and Buckingham Palace; a Stage 1 from Greenwich to central London, and a Stage 2 traveling to England's South Coast, for a transfer across the English Channel.
London officials expect official notification next summer.