Island sending delegation to gain insight for Grand Depart bid
After Vendée this summer and Liège next year, Corsica is still on the track as a main candidate to host the Grand Depart of the 100th Tour de France, in 2013. The Mediterranean island's delegation will be in Vendée from Thursday to Saturday next week in order to learn the infrastructure of the event and adapt its technical file if necessary. The delegation will include between five and ten representatives from the Corsican territorial assembly and departements, as well as from the cities which expect to host a race's start or finish.
Cyclingnews understands that Corsica plans to host three stages and no prologue. Four cities are candidates: Bastia (in the North of the island), Calvi (in the North-West), Ajaccio (West) and Porto-Vecchio (South). For two years the latter has been the center of the new course for the Critérium International, another event organised by ASO. However, the Corsican application isn't supported by individual cities but a region, like Brittany did in 2008, so the organisers are free to decide the route.
An ambassador of the project, former sports journalist Pierre Cangioni, denies ASO has already approved the Grand Depart in Corsica. "It's wrong to think so," he explained to Cyclingnews. "Bets are not down. There are still numerous technical points to study together."
Marie-Hélène Djivas, the project's manager and the spokesperson of the Corsican territorial assembly, underlines that the insularity creates numerous logistical problems. She quotes famous Italian writer Antonio Gramsci: "I'm a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will". In other words the local assembly is still working hard to seduce ASO. "To be honest and without betraying our secrets, we have just sorted out the last technical problems but it doesn't mean we will succeed," Djivas said. "We know 2013 is a fantastic opportunity and we will do our best not to miss it".
The main limits of the Corsican application are the lack of an about 8000 square meter venue to host the press center and possible overcrowding of the accommodations due of seasonal tourism. For both problems, some very big and comfortable boats may be hired and dropped in the local ports, Cyclingnews understands.
That would reinforce the ultimate side of the project in Tour de France history. Corsica has never hosted the Tour de France yet, and the 100th anniversary in 2013 seems a perfect year to make up for it.
Cangioni recalls the first time he supported the project what under the reign of Jacques Goddet, between 1936 and 1989. "But it was more like a joke," the journalist says. In 2010 Corsican dreams looked ready to become true but ASO finally voted for Rotterdam. That explains why the spokesmen are very careful this year.
After the visit in Vendée next week, the Corsican team will wait until the end of the race and meet ASO's managers to show them their final application. They expect to get a green light by December, the month when Tour de France's organisers usually announce the next places of Grand Depart.
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