Vendée president Philippe de Villiers has taken up the challenge of hosting the cycling world championships in the coming years, announcing the Vendée region's bid for the 2014 worlds after having lunch with FFC president David Lappartient
Lappartient had stated in a press conference on Saturday that France would soon be a candidate for world championships in all disciplines - track, BMX, cyclo-cross, mountain bike and road racing.
And further proof of the Vendée province joining Brittany as a hot bed of French cycling came with the 60,000 fans who gathered in Chantonnay for the French road race championship won by Thomas Voeckler of 'local' ProTour squad Bbox Bouygues Telecom yesterday.
While it's slightly lower than last year's attendance in Saint-Brieuc there's evidence that a worlds bid could be fruitful for the region.
"Bids will be presented by the FFC to the UCI who welcomes them," said Lappartient. France is eligible to host world championships after the lifting of a ban at the end of 2008 which signalled the end of the war between Grand Tour organisers and the governing body.
The FFC has evaluated the cost of organising the world championships at ten millions euros and the Vendée province is prepared to pay the price.
It's been 13 years since the region lost a bid to Plouay to host the world titles when the Breton village held them there in 2000, the last time a world championship was organised in France. Competition is expected to be strong as Brittany will probably bid and the game is open to other French regions.
The Vendée province, on the Atlantic side of France, is home to the Bbox Bouygues Telecom team, with its headquarters located in the village of Les Essarts. It has hosted the European championships in 2001, the French championship three times in the past decade (2000, 2006 and 2009) and the Grand Départ of the Tour de France every six years since 1993.
Lance Armstrong started his first Tour de France there with a prologue in Le Puy du Fou and returned to the Grande Boucle at the same place to begin his seven years of domination in 1999. His last Tour de France before his first retirement started from the island of Noirmoutier with a time trial in 2005.
Will he be there again next year? The region will once more be featured in world cycling with the Tour de France set to start from the Vendée island in 2011, a possible dress rehearsal for the world titles several years later.