Tour de France boss Jean-Marie LeBlanc made a low-key visit to the Dutch town of Utrecht last weekend to inspect the town's facilities in respect of its bid to host the start of the Tour de France in 2009.
LeBlanc's visit was practically incognito, with only a few Utrecht civil servants notified of his arrival. LeBlanc's aim, it seems, to get a feel for the city without the hoopla that usually accompanies an inspection by the head of the world's largest annual sporting event.
"This is the ultimate affirmation that Utrecht has become a very serious candidate," Jeroen Wielaert told Utrechts Nieuwsblad. Wielart, the Dutch journalist who initiated the push for Utrecht to host the Tour's grand depart more than three years ago, said that the idea was initially greeted with skepticism, but that had been overcome with the the setting up of a foundation to work on bringing the Tour to the area and the support of the municipal council.