Kazakhstan keen on Tour de France Grand Départ

Central Asian country inspired by Yorkshire

The Tour de FranceGrand Départ in Yorkshire and Vincenzo Nibali's overall victory on Sunday for the Kazakhstan-backed Astana team has inspired the national cycling federation to state its intent to host the start of the French grand tour in the central-Asian country before 2020.

Kairat Kelimbetov, the president of Kazakh Cycling and also the head of Kazakhstan's central bank, told AFP in Paris after Nibali's win that while the idea may be laughable now, he believes it is possible.

"It's like a joke now, but this Yorkshire experience is very interesting for us," said Kelimbetov. "The Tour de France has become global and cycling has become global and everyone was absolutely excited when five million people came onto the streets [in Yorkshire].

"The idea is to one day bring it to Kazakhstan," he said. "It took three years for Yorkshire to be prepared and I think we could deliver it also."

The 2015 Tour de France will start in the Dutch city of Utrecht with the full route to be revealed in October while the Tour director, Christian Prudhomme, has hinted that the 2016 edition of the race will feature a Grand Départ.

Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, is 4,800km from Paris although that distance is shorter than than locations which the Giro d'Italia has suggested as possible sites for the Italian Grand Partenza. New York and Dubai have both been suggested as future startling locations for the three-week race which this year started in Belfast, Northern Ireland while Sweden is considering a bid to host Giro start after 2017.

The route for the 2015 Giro will be revealed on July 29.

Kazakhstan will host the world junior cycling championships next year and Kelimbetov said that he has asked the UCI about hosing the world championships in 2018.

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