SCOTLAND is to bid to bring the Grand Départ of the Tour de France to Scotland in the next decade, with the country's events chief identifying the world's biggest cycle race as "the next jewel in the crown in terms of major events."
• David Millar agreed to act as ambassador for any bid
As this year's race got underway in Rotterdam on Saturday, Paul Bush, the chief operating officer of EventScotland, attended as a guest of ASO, the Tour organisers, with a view to putting together a formal application. Scotland's sole representative in the race, David Millar, immediately agreed to act as ambassador for any bid.
"We've had positive discussions with ASO," said Bush, "and now we're looking at putting a proposal to them to bring the Grand Dpart to Scotland in the next ten years. It sounds like a long time away, but that's the timeline they work to.
"After the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup (both in 2014] it's the one we want," continued Bush, who first met with ASO three years ago to discuss the idea, following the successful London Grand Dpart in 2007.
"As far as I'm concerned this is the next jewel in the crown in terms of major events to come to Scotland. We've had the MTV Awards, we're going to get the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games, and the Tour would hopefully be next. It's such a huge, worldwide event - it's got an Olympic feel to it."
Millar, who finished third in Saturday's opening prologue time trial, welcomed the news. "I would love to be an ambassador," said Millar, the 33-year-old who rides for the American Garmin-Transitions team. "If we're talking of it happening in the next decade, then I think I may have to keep racing until I'm 43.
"It would be wonderful," continued Millar. "Scotland would form such a spectacular backdrop and the only major challenge I can see are the logistics of transporting the entire Tour entourage back to France.
"But there are historical reasons for doing it," added Millar, "when you think about the links between France and Scotland. The French are very aware of their special relationship with Scotland."
It is rumoured that London is in line to welcome its second Grand Dpart in 2014, meaning that, with the Tour tending to start outside France every second year, a Scottish leg wouldn't be likely before 2016.
As for where the Tour would visit, Edinburgh and Glasgow are obvious venues, with one city hosting the prologue, the other the finish to stage one.