The 2007 Tour de France will start in the British capital London, French business magazine La Lettre de l'Expansion claimed on Monday, January 23. The magazine reports that London has gone from a serious candidate for next year's prologue and grand depart to confirmed venue after an agreement was reached between ASO and London Mayor Ken Livingstone.
ASO has refused to comment on the report, telling the Associated Press it would not be able to confirm or deny the claim until Tuesday.
A London prologue would be the third time the Tour de France has visited the UK, but the first in the capital. In 1974 the Tour made a rather lackluster visit to the UK for a stage near Plymouth. After a long and unpleasant transfer an unhappy peloton paraded up and down an unopened bypass road. Very few spectators bothered to turn up and the UK's Daily Mirror covered the event with the headline "Tour de France: can 40 million Frenchmen be wrong."
The Tour's next visit, in 1994 to mark the 50th anniversary of D-Day, was a much happier affair. British rider Chris Boardman took the yellow jersey in the prologue at Lille and large crowds turned out to see him and the Tour race two stages from Dover to Brighton and Brighton to Portsmouth.
A Tour prologue in London is expected to take in the city's major landmarks, many of which are conveniently packed into the center. It would be followed by a stage heading for the east coast from where the race would transfer back to France.