HOPES of bringing the Tour de France to Scotland remain high despite Edinburgh losing out to Yorkshire in a bid to host the start of the famous race in 2014.
Tour organisers Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) yesterday announced the English county had beaten the Scottish capital in the race to host the Grand Depart.
The timing of the announcement came as an embarrassment for Edinburgh City Council, which had just 24 hours earlier pledged around £1 million to help bring the event to the capital.
However, organisers of the Edinburgh bid, which had the backing of the sport’s governing body, said they remained confident the race could be brought to Scotland at a later date, possibly 2017.
In a statement, ASO said: “The organisers of the Tour de France are pleased to announce that the Grand Depart of the Tour de France 2014 will take place in the United Kingdom in the county of Yorkshire, before heading to London for a stage finish.
“After an outstanding 2012 for British cycling, marked by the historical victory of Bradley Wiggins on the Tour de France, the United Kingdom will again hold pride of place in 2014.
“The Grand Depart of the 101st edition of the Tour will take place on 5 July in Leeds. Seven years after the Grand Depart of the Tour de France 2007 and two years after the latest Olympic Games, London will host the last stage on British soil, before the pack returns to mainland Europe.”
Known as the “British bid”, plans to start the Tour in Edinburgh involved four days of racing throughout the UK, in southern Scotland, England and Wales.
As well as support from British Cycling, the sport’s governing body, the bid also enjoyed the backing of the Scottish and UK Governments.
Under the plans, it was thought riders would tour Edinburgh city centre in “non-race” mode the day before they were due to start the race proper on the outskirts of the city.
EventScotland, which was co-ordinating the bid, said its initial intention had always been to bring the race to Scotland in 2017, however this has been brought forward due to the success of Britain’s cyclists during the London Olympics.
A spokesman said: “It is disappointing that we have been unsuccessful for the 2014 Grand Depart, but it is great news that the Tour is returning in 2014 following British cycling success this year.
“Our initial plans had highlighted 2017 as our preferred date and we have had a positive indication from ASO that the year is still a possibility. We have developed a great British bid with strong partners, which would deliver significant benefits to the whole country and we will continue our positive dialogue with ASO in the New Year and look at our next steps.”
On Thursday, councillors in Edinburgh pledged their backing for the 2014 bid, releasing £1.03m of funds. It had been expected that the hosting fee for the event would be about £2m, of which Edinburgh City Council would have been expected to pay about £300,000. It would also have cost the local authority about £450,000 for a media centre, barriers and police.
Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie said: “We felt the British bid was a strong one, as demonstrated by unanimous council support and by the support of British Cycling, UK Sport and the Scottish, Welsh and UK Governments.
“The proposals are still live and we will continue to work with EventScotland and other partners to bring the event here at the earliest opportunity.
“There is no doubt that attracting an event of the Tour de France’s stature to Edinburgh would be a major coup and of huge value to the city. We will continue to compete for major international events to be staged in Edinburgh.”
The Yorkshire bid had the support of last year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year Mark Cavendish, double Olympic track champion Ed Clancy and Brian Robinson, the first Briton to win a stage of the Tour de France in 1958.