The Tour de France could start in Qatar in 2014 after celebrating the centenary edition of the race with a first-ever start in Corsica.
According to the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, the Arabian country is interested in hosting the Tour de France Grand Départ after recently buying the Paris Saint Germain football team and the television rights to the French football championships.
ASO has played a key role in organising the Tour of Qatar since 2002 and this year the riders flew from Grenoble to Paris for the final stage with Qatar Airways. The seven-hour flight and the extreme heat in July would be problematic but Qatar is set to host the 2022 football world cup in the summer. To overcome the 40°C summer temperatures, the stages could be held late in the evening, which would also coincide with important afternoon television viewing times in Europe.
ASO is reported to have received interest to host a Grand Départ from Venice, Florence, Barcelona, Berlin, Scotland and Yorkshire.
Any international candidates would have to wait until at least 2014 because the 2012 Tour de France will start in Liège, Belgium, while Corsica is set to host the hundredth edition of the Tour de France in 2013. The Mediterranean island is the only French department not to have hosted a Tour start.
A return to l'Alpe d'Huez in 2012?
The 2012 Tour de France will start with a 6.1km prologue time trial on Saturday June 30. If the tradition of alternating directions of the race is followed, the race will head into the Alps and then the Pyrenees.
Stage finishes are rumoured for La Toussuire and Albertville to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Winter Olympics in the French Alpine city. Mountain finishes could be hosted at Pla d'Adet and La Pierre-Saint-Martin. The Tourmalet could also be climbed again and Cyclingnews understand there is a strong possibility that the 2012 Tour de France will return to l'Alpe d'Huez, perhaps with a mountain time trial.
Local hoteliers told Cyclingnews that the French ski resort is interested in hosting stage finishes of both the Giro d'Italia in May and the Tour de France in July.
The official route of the 2012 Tour de France will be presented unveiled in Paris on October 18.