Florence is still hopefully of hosting the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France but has warned it will not be drawn into a bidding war against rivals from Britain, claiming the Tuscan capital can offer far more than just cash.
Dario Nardella – the deputy mayor of Florence, told Cyclingnews that the Tour de France organisers ASO are set to decide on who hosts the 2014 Grand Depart in the next few days.
Yorkshire and Scotland have confirmed they made separate bids for the 2014 Grand Depart with the race then passing through Britain before returning to France. Nardella believes the Yorkshire bid is in pole position after making an offer of over four million Euro but he called on race organisers ASO to consider more than just the financial aspects of the bids.
"The Yorkshire bid is very strong and they have a lot of money available. But I call on the French to remember that while sport is about money, it's also about dreams and giving an important message about values. We think we can offer something special," Nardella told Cyclingnews.
"If they choose Britain, they've got to tell us why Leeds is better than Florence. I don't think I'm being pretentious by saying that Florence is great city that is known all over the world. And so I think linking the Tour de France to a city that is known and loved in Japan, America, South Africa and all over the world, is a winning ticket."
Florence will host the 2013 UCI World road race championships in September and wants to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Gino Bartali in 2014 by hosting the Tour de France start for the first time. Bartali won the Tour de France in 1938 and 1948.
Nardella hopes that ASO will favour Florence in 2014 and then ask Britain to host the Tour de France start in 2015 or 2016.
Cyclingnews understands that the Florence bid includes plans to host stage finishes in Pisa, in the shadow of the leaning tower of Pisa, and possibly in Novi Ligure, the birthplace of Fausto Coppi, before heading to France.
"The Tour has started in Britain but it's never started in Italy and yet Italian cycling and Tuscan cycling has given a lot to the Tour de France over the years," Nardella said.
"I'd be happy to reach a deal with the Brits and twin our two bids because British people love Tuscany too. I think it'd be fair if Prudhomme and his staff awarded the 2014 start to Florence and Tuscany and the 2015 or 2016 start to Leeds. Of course if we have to go head to head, then all I can say is: May the best bid win."