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.
The Grand Depart will return to Britain for the first time since 2007, when one million people lined the streets of London for the opening prologue.
Tour organisers Amaury Sports Organisation selected Yorkshire ahead of a separate British-wide bid with an Edinburgh start, but that remains in the running for a future date.
The 100th edition of the Tour begins in Corsica on June 29, 2013.
Edinburgh City Council only yesterday approved £1.03million in funding to pay for host fees although staff at EventScotland had been working on the bid for five years.
The event would have set off from the Esplanade at Edinburgh Castle and travelled south to the borders, heading through England, into Wales, and back towards the south coast.
An EventScotland 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.”
Senior figures involved with the bidding process suggested that Yorkshire had a head start in the process it had been focusing for the 2014 or 2016 event all along.
Edinburgh had originally been aiming for 2017 but also pitched for the 2014 bid after ASO said they had been impressed by the Capital’s ability to host sports events earlier this year.
Leeds will host the event from July 5 2014, and there will be two days in Yorkshire before a 3rd stage heads south.
Estimates suggested that the event would have been worth £24million to the wider Edinburgh economy, when spash spent in local businesses, hotels stays and the impact of global publicity is taken into account.
One insider involved in the bid process told the Evening News: “The bid to host the 2017 Tour de France has been worked on since 2007 but earlier this year ASO suggested 2014 would be a possibility for us and we decided to go for that.
“If it had worked out the money, which was signed off by Edinburgh City Council, would have been there.
“But ASO have indicated that 2017 is certainly a possibility and certainly all the partners involved, including British Cycling and UK Sport, are dedicated to making it happen.”
Steve Cardownie, the city’s Festivals and Events Champion, said the result was disappointing but Edinburgh would continue to compete for major events.
He said: “We felt the British bid was a strong one, as demonstrated by unanimous council support yesterday 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.”