Ireland candidate for the cross-border Grand Départ of the Tour de France
The island of Ireland is a candidate to host a cross-border Grand Départ of the Tour de France, with the government of the Republic of Ireland in Dublin and the executive of Northern Ireland in Belfast hoping to host the first days of the race.
BBC Sport reporting that we hope to bring the race to the Emerald Isle in 2026 or 2027, with three stages taking place there.
The broadcaster reports that Gordon Lyons of the DUP, the DUP politician who is Northern Ireland’s economy minister, has met Catherine Martin of the Green Party, the minister for tourism, culture, arts, Gaeltacht , Sports and Media of the Republic of Ireland, to discuss the joint project hosting the event.
She adds that a joint expression of interest has been submitted to the race organisers, ASO. Whether the first leg of the race is expected to start in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland has not been reported.
Dublin hosted the first two stages of the Tour de France in 1998, on a weekend that also saw France celebrate their first-ever FIFA World Cup victory, with stage three taking place from Enniscorthy to Cork , before the race – quickly engulfed by the Festina scandal – heading to Brittany.
Belfast, meanwhile, hosted the start of the Giro d’Italia in 2014 with a team time trial and road stage starting and ending in the city, followed by a third stage which started in Armagh in Northern Ireland and ended in Dublin before the race transfer to Italy.
“People will fondly remember the success of the ‘Big Start’ of the Giro d’Italia in 2014, and I am confident that together we would be able to successfully host the Grand Départ,” said Lyons.
“Major events like this not only bring huge economic benefits, but give us a tremendous opportunity to showcase all that is great about Northern Ireland,” he added.
Martin said: “Hosting the biggest cycle race in the world would be an exciting opportunity for the island of Ireland.
“I was delighted to meet Minister Lyons again during my recent trip to Belfast and to agree to express a common interest in hosting three full stages for Le Grand Départ of the Tour de France, ideally in 2026 or 2027. “
She added: “This collaborative process has my full support and I will be engaging with colleagues across government on this in the weeks to come.”
The Tour de France began outside its home country in 1954, when Amsterdam hosted the start of the race.
Foreign Grand Departures have increased in frequency since then, not least because of the revenue they bring in for ASO race organizers, and now typically occur every two editions, with next year’s race set to start in the Basque region of Spain. , and nowadays there is always a queue of potential hosts.
One of the main reasons why cities, regions or countries apply to host the opening days of the biggest annual sporting event in the world is the opportunity it gives them to present themselves as a destination. tourism to a global audience.
It should therefore be noted that following the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, Tourism Ireland was established to promote the whole of the island of Ireland overseas, under the auspices of the Northern Ministerial Council/ South.
The race last started in the UK in 2014, when the first two stages were in Yorkshire, before a third stage from Cambridge to London before the caravan crossed the English Channel to northern France.