Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme is in Corsica to evaluate its bid to host the start of the 2013 race. France's largest island in the Mediterranean sea has never been host of the race which will celebrate its 100th edition in four years.
"This is the first step of a process to see if the Tour de France can be run here," Prudhomme told L'Equipe. "Several trips are necessary and it will take time to decide."
Prudhomme and other Tour officials arrived in Ajaccio yesterday and will stay on the island for three days. They will visit Porto Vecchio (Corse-du-Sud) today and Bastia as well as Calvi (Haute-Corse) Friday.
The last time the Tour de France held its start off the European mainland was in 2007, in London. The Tour caravan travelled back to France through the Channel tunnel, but returning from Corsica would require ferries and airplanes.
Tour organiser ASO has received applications from other countries to host the 2013 start. Salzburg (Austria), Scotland, Utrecht (Netherlands), Lugano (Switzerland) and Liège (Belgium) have applied in Europe, with such faraway locations as Qatar and Tokyo (Japan) also making a bid.
Prudhomme announced the 2010 Tour route last week in Paris, France. It starts with one stage in the Netherlands and then travels to France via Belgium.