If London's bid to stage the beginning of the 2006 Tour de France is successful - and this site reported Ken Livingstone's bid is a front runner - the riders won't meander through urban backstreets, they'll be racing by famous landmarks on closed roads. And with 2m extra visitors, plus 5000 Tour folk for the best part of a week, London would reap the financial rewards. So would the SE of England, Livingstone's planners want the UK to stage the third day of racing too...

Tour de France would race past Buck House

A report in Friday’s Guardian newspaper adds further credence to the BikeBiz claim that the London bid for the opening stages of the 2006 Tour de France looks likely to succeed.

The Guardian’s cycle writers reportly, gleefully, that London would be "virtually shut down for an entire weekend."

Mayor Ken Livingstone’s plan for the route takes in Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament.

The prologue would begin in The Mall under Admiralty Arch and go via Whitehall, Parliament Square, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park and the Serpentine. It would return via Green Park and St James’ Park.

The first day of racing would start at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, cross Tower Bridge and end on the Mall.

The second stage would begin at Rochester Castle in Kent, and end in Portsmouth, which was a Tour stage finish in 1994.

Peter Hendy, of Transport for London, which is co-ordinating the bid, told The Guardian:

"We think we have submitted a really strong bid. We have the support of all the right people in government and hope the organisers will be just as enthusiastic. The public spaces and famous monuments in London would be a stunning backdrop to the opening of the Tour. The world-class cyclists are much more familiar in Europe and we hope to change that."

The London bid has backing at the highest levels, said the Guardian’s report.

"Ministers have pledged their support, as have business and sporting leaders and royal household officials."

The team presentation would be held in Trafalgar Square. Race HQ would be at the ExCel Conference Centre in Docklands and the press centre at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre.

The Guardian said:

"Livingstone is keen to use the Tour to make cycling as popular in London as in other European cities and so help fulfil one plank of his transport strategy. Such aspirations are likely to appeal to the race organisers."

Livingstone believes paying for the visit of Le Tour is money well spent:

"It would fill every hotel room in the city. We would hope for 2m visitors over the week. There is tremendous interest in having it start in London and our chances are very good."

Steve Norris, the former transport minister, head of the National Cycle Strategy Board and would-be London mayor, supports the London Tour bid.

"When I am elected, I will work towards bringing the Tour here. It is a great way to improve our sporting links with Europe and for them to see London as a major sporting venue," he told The Guardian.





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