TOUR LAUNCH HAS A BRITISH FEEL
The 2007 Tour de France presentation was held in Paris but had a distinct British feel because of the Grand Depart in London.
The mayor of London Ken Livingstone made it clear the Tour would play a key part in promoting cycling in London and the whole country and reminded everyone that the prologue will fall on the second anniversary of the London bombings. Transport for London has calculated that the Grand Depart of the Tour de France will generate £115m for British tourism in return for the cost of £1.5m for obtaining the Tour start.
Both Bradley Wiggins and David Millar were at the presentation, adding to the British feeling, and watched with interested as the stages were revealed. Wiggins admitted he would no longer focus on the prologue but work on being competitive and in the action throughout the three-week race.
“It’s still a little bit difficult to get excited about the Tour because it seems so far away, but it’s obviously going to be a big goal of mine,” Wiggins said.
“We might have two Brits in the top five in the prologue and just the presence of the race will be a big boost for British Cycling. It’ll also convince the British public that there is a lot more to cycling than just the doping scandals.”
“I’m going to go for the prologue because it’s in the city where I grew up. It’s an easy course with virtually no technical corners and will be fast. However I’m not going to focus entirely on the prologue and let it dictate my training. I’m also going work hard so that I can get in breaks throughout the race.”
As major of the city hosting the Grand Depart, Ken Livingstone gave a speech welcoming the Tour de France to London.
“I’m delighted to be in be Paris to celebrate that London will host start of the 2007 Tour de France. It’ll be an historic an occasion because it’s the first time the Tour visits London and first time Grand Depart is in England,” he said.
“We know that the Tour and sport of cycling face the threat of those who use illegal drugs to help their performance and that this threatens the very existence of the sport. However we’ve also heard that ASO, the Tour organisers, and the sporting authorities are taking steps to stamp it out and so I applaud their efforts.
"London has also faced the threat of terrorists who exploded four bombs, killing 52 people and injuring many more. The attacks tried to destroy the cohesion of our multi cultural society but Londoners are united not to bow down to this threat.”
“I want London to become a true cycling city. Cycling is good for reducing congestion that plagues most cities, it gives heath benefits and most of all offers a zero carbon way of getting around and so tackle the greatest threat we face: global climate change. Since I came to office cycling has increased by 70%. Our goal is that by 2020 there will be a 200% increase compared to 2000. The Tour de France will assist us in achieving this vision, and it will inspire more Londoners to get on their bikes. I hope it will be the first of many visits by the Tour de France, and I hope every one can enjoy the multi-cultural lifestyle London offers.”