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Britain to bid for 2026 Tour de France Grand Départ

The 2014 Tour de France started in Yorkshire
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Britain will bid to host the 2026 Tour de France Grand Départ, with stages expected to be in England, Scotland, and Wales and funding coming from the government to back the bid and cover organising costs.      

News of the bid emerged as part of the upcoming budget announcement on Wednesday. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he will allocate £30 million funding to prepare bids to hold the opening stages of the 2026 Tour de France and the 2025 Women's Rugby World Cup. 

The Tour de France last visited the UK in 2014, with the opening two stages in Yorkshire, and stage three running from Cambridge to London. 

Marcel Kittel won the opening stage in Harrogate as Mark Cavendish crashed. Vincenzo Nibali won in Sheffield to kick-off his overall victory with the Tour also visiting London. The capital also hosted the Grand Départ in 2007 and the race visited  Britain in 1974 and then in 1994.

Britain has since left the European Union after Brexit but the Conservative government seems keen to host the French Grand Tour as part of its so-called ‘levelling-up’ agenda. 

The 2022 Tour de France will start in Denmark, but bidding for the 2026 races closes early next year. The 2023 Tour de France will start in Bilbao in the Basque Country in Northern Spain, while the Emilia Romagna region of central Italy is keen to host the 2024 Grand Départ.     

“I’m excited at the prospect of bringing more world-class sporting events to the UK. That’s why I’m backing these British bids, with over £40m of funding to make our case,” Sunak said in an announcement. 

“Our bids will include events taking place across the country, and I’m hopeful that everyone will get a chance to cheer on their sporting heroes.”

According to British Cycling, research on the 2014 Grand Départ showed that the event generated approximately £130million for the host region economies and was watched at the roadside by 3.5m people.

“The 2014 Tour de France Grand Départ in Yorkshire was an unforgettable celebration of our sport and is still talked about to this day, inspiring a new generation of cyclists," British Cycling CEO Brian Facer said, confirming the bid.  

“More importantly, those few days showcased our country’s credentials as one of the world’s best cycling nations, and we’re delighted to be supporting the UK Government’s bid to bring the sport’s showpiece event back to these shores in 2026.

“We now look forward to working alongside the UK Government, devolved administrations and UK Sport to deliver a compelling vision for the 2026 Grand Depart, which aligns with the event organiser Amaury Sport Organisation’s aspirations, and builds on our proud track record of hosting the sport’s biggest global event.”

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