Monthly Archives: September 2015

Boris admits calling off 2017 Tour plan

Tour de France stage 3 in London in 2014Image copyright
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The capital beat bids from Edinburgh, Manchester and several German regions to stage this year’s Grand Depart

Boris Johnson has admitted he decided London should not host the start of the 2017 Tour de France because it was “not worth it”.

The London mayor told BBC London 94.9 he could not justify spending £35m on a one-off event.

He said: “I will not waste cycling money on something that would only deliver very brief benefits.”

Transport for London (TfL) pulled out a day before the contracts were due to be signed.

Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), the French company which owns the race, was told of TfL’s decision last week.

Mr Johnson said: “I’m afraid I have got to put my hands up here and say I took the decision not to go forward with it.

“You’ve got to take some tough decisions in government and I think 35m quid on a one-off event was just not worth it for London.”

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Boris Johnson said he could not justify spending £35m on a one-off event

He said the money could be spent on long-term infrastructure to make cycling in London safer.

Last week, Leon Daniels, managing director of surface transport at TfL, said: “To ensure value for money we must make difficult choices, and on this occasion we have decided that we will not be hosting the Grand Depart in 2017.”

TfL would have provided the funds for holding the Tour’s opening stages. In 2014 TfL paid £6m to host the finish of the Tour’s third stage. London also hosted the Grand Depart in 2007.

Labour’s candidate for London mayor, Sadiq Khan, said the Government had “wasted a huge opportunity”.

In 2014 the Tour was watched by crowds totalling 4.8m people in the UK and generated around £128m, according to a report published last year.

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Bryn Lennon

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The Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour attracted vast crowds in Yorkshire

Spectators gathered in Yorkshire on the weekend of 5 and 6 July as the riders went from Leeds to Harrogate, and then from York to Sheffield.

The report, “Three Inspirational Days”, said a quarter of everyone living in the Yorkshire and Humber region came out to watch and the Tour attracted 113,000 visitors from outside the UK, generating £33m into the UK economy.

It also found the 2014 event generated more than £128m of economic benefit for the host areas overall, with £19.5 million being generated for London.

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London pulls out of 2017 Tour start

London has turned down the chance to host the start of the 2017 Tour de France, angering the race owners.

London beat bids from Edinburgh, Manchester and several German regions to stage the Grand Depart.

But last week, a day before contracts were meant to be signed, Transport for London (TfL) said it was pulling out.

“To ensure value for money we must make difficult choices,” Leon Daniels, managing director of surface transport at TfL, told BBC Sport.

“We have always said that the return of the Tour was subject to funding.”

The timing of the decision has angered the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), the French company which owns the race.

As the body responsible for all transport policy in London, TfL would have provided the funds for staging the Tour’s opening stages.

Marcel Kittel at the 2014 Tour

Germany’s Marcel Kittel celebrates his victory on The Mall in 2014, another successful visit to London for the world’s most famous bike race

London hosted a hugely successful Grand Depart in 2007 and the finish of the Tour’s third stage in 2014.

The first two stages of last year’s Tour were held in Yorkshire, attracting an estimated four million spectators and boosting the economy by £100m, according to local organisers.

TfL contributed £6m to the Grand Depart budget of £27m, which was almost as much as the total for two days of racing in 2007.

Given the upfront costs and

the prospect of major cuts to transport spending

across the UK later this year, it is understood bosses at TfL and the Greater London Authority, its parent body, decided the city could not afford a third visit from the world’s biggest bike race.

It is believed the 2017 Grand Depart will now be held in Germany, which has not hosted a Tour stage since 2005.

The Manche region of Normandy will host next year’s Grand Depart, when Britain’s Chris Froome will start as defending champion.

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Storey’s road team turn professional

Dame Sarah Storey’s Podium Ambition road cycling team will turn professional for the start of the Women’s World Tour in 2016.

Storey, 37, has raced for the team – previously known as Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International – since it launched in 2014.

Storey, Joanna Rowsell Shand and Katie Archibald are the first riders to be named in the new line-up.

“The team will be almost 100% British,” said team principle Barney Storey.

“The number of British women riding in the professional peloton on a regular basis has not increased a great deal over the last few years and it is our intention to change that.”

Dame Sarah Storey is married to former Paralympic gold medallist Barney Storey

Dame Sarah Storey is married to former Paralympic gold medallist Barney Storey

Podium Ambition becoming professional coincides with the beginning of the World Tour, the replacement for the UCI Women’s Road World Cup, which ran from 1998 to 2015.

Two of the 17 events will be based in the UK – the Aviva Women’s Tour and RideLondon.

In August the established Velocio-SRAM team folded because of a lack of financial support, while Matrix Vulpine – whom double Olympic champion Laura Trott rides for – are urgently seeking new sponsors to be able to compete.

“Aspiring young women who have ambitions to be road professionals in the future will now be able to see the world’s best here in the UK,” said Dame Sarah Storey, a six-time Paralympic cycling champion.

“This is a huge positive as we look to further develop women’s cycling in Britain.”

Trott previously competed for the high-profile Wiggle-Honda road racing team before her switch to Matrix Vulpine.

The 23-year-old, who won

three British track cycling titles

at the weekend, believes the new Tour is a positive move, but that staging more women’s races alongside established men’s competitions could help struggling teams.

“Women’s road cycling has always been on the back foot compared to the men’s with all these races that just don’t get the coverage they deserve, but this is a massive step forwards,” she told BBC Sport.

“However we need the coverage and although some people say don’t run races alongside the men’s it may help with the coverage and bring in new sponsors.”

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Briton Armitstead wins world gold

Briton Lizzie Armitstead won gold in the women’s road race at the Road Cycling World Championships in Richmond, Virginia.

The 26-year-old won the 130km race by a wheel from Netherlands’ Anna van der Breggen, with Megan Guarnier of the United States in third.

Olympic silver medallist Armitstead said: “It’s a dream come true.”

The Leeds rider won silver in last Sunday’s

women’s time trial

with her Netherlands-based Boels-Dolmans team.

British Cycling president Bob Howden said: “This is a landmark moment. Lizzie represents the best of our great sport and deserves all of the praise coming her way.”

Armitstead said she would “empty the tank” in the road race as she attempted to make up for the disappointment of finishing seventh last year.

But she was unable to rely on team support in the gruelling closing stages as Lucy Garner, Hayley Simmonds, Alice Barnes, Molly Weaver and Jessie Walker struggled to stay with her.

Lizzie Armitstead

Armitstead won silver in the road race at the 2012 London Olympics

Armitstead appeared to have lost any chance of victory when she missed a breakaway of nine riders who opened up a minute’s lead on the peloton with less than 10km remaining.

But the steep climbs and cobbles in the final lap took their toll on the leaders and they were swallowed up by the chasing pack.

Armitstead made her initial burst for the line with 900m to go but she could not get away. Van der Breggen then led out the final sprint but Armitstead had enough left in her legs to snatch victory.

“I just can’t be believe it,” said Armitstead, who last month

won the UCI World Cup series

for a second successive year.

“I took the decision to lead it on and then waited for the rush to come, but it never came. It will be fantastic to wear the rainbow jersey for the next year.”

Armitstead becomes only the fourth British women to win the title, following Beryl Burton, Mandy Jones and Nicole Cooke.

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Trott claims British track gold

Double Olympic champion Laura Trott fought back to win the individual pursuit title on day one of the British Track Championships in Manchester.

Trott, 22, trailed Scotland’s Katie Archibald by almost a second at halfway before crossing the line 0.3secs ahead.

Andy Tennant, riding for Sir Bradley Wiggins’ team, retained his men’s individual pursuit title.

Matt Crampton and Katy Marchant won maiden titles in the men’s keirin and women’s individual sprint respectively.

Double world champion

Sophie Thornhill, 19, piloted by Helen Scott, retained the mixed Para-cycling BVI standing start time trial.

Leeds sprinter Kadeena Cox, 23, won the Para-cycling C1-5 mixed time trial.

Kadeena Cox twitter

Kadeena Cox cannot hide her joy at winning a national track title

Defending champion

Archibald qualified for the women’s individual pursuit final over a second ahead of Matrix Fitness rider Trott and looked set for victory after a strong opening half to the race, but Trott showed tremendous stamina to win in a time of three minutes 32.759 seconds, with Archibald crossing the line in 3:33.065.

Trott told

the British Cycling website: 

“I didn’t really know how well I was going to go. I was really happy with my time and to take the national title.

“I just went flat out so I was really happy that I managed to pull it back and in typical Laura form, leaving it until the last two laps.”

London rider Germain Burton, 20, had a slight lead at the halfway stage of the men’s event, but Tennant, 28, turned it around to lead by a second with 1km remaining and powered to victory clocking 4:23.583 with Burton finishing in 4:27.209.

Tennant said: “It’s fantastic. There was more pressure this year as the reigning champion, pressure that I’d put on myself more than anything.”

Marchant, 22, who ended Jess Varnish’s two-year reign as sprint champion earlier in the day, was pushed hard by Becky James but won the opening two races in the best of three to earn the individual sprint title.

“I was really happy with qualifying and my legs were on my side and I felt really strong and I felt like I did myself justice,” said Marchant.

Matt Crampton (left)

Matt Crampton crosses the line in a thrilling finish to the men’s keirin

Welsh cyclist James, 23, who had an

operation to remove abnormal cells

following a cervical screening in May 2014, only made her comeback in the Revolution Series in Derby in August.

In the final event of day one, Matt Crampton, 29, won a thrilling men’s keirin with Lewis Oliva claiming silver and bronze going to Thomas Rotherham. Three-time Olympic champion Jason Kenny had to settle for fourth.

“I’ve had a tough year, a tough couple of years so it’s really nice to step up today and put a bit of icing on top of the cake,” said Crampton.

Tour de France winner and four-time Olympic gold medallist Wiggins

pulled out of the Championships

on medical advice after suffering with a cold following the recent Tour of Britain.

Saturday’s events include the finals of the men’s sprints and kilometre time trial, and the women’s keirin and scratch race.

The championships conclude on Sunday.

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