Cycling: Britain set to host five Tour stages after audacious bid
Britain is set to host up to five stages of the Tour de France in either 2014 or 2015 after race organisers gave the green light to an audacious Scottish-led bid under which the race would begin in Edinburgh and take in parts of England and Wales as well.
If the bid, backed by British Cycling, is rubber-stamped 30 million people in Britain will be within one hour's drive of the route, and the biggest crowds in Tour history would be almost guaranteed.
A firm decision is expected from organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) before Christmas. ASO -- having revealed the spectacular 2013 route in Paris, will now devote its attention to fine-tuning plans for 2014. Race director Christian Prudhomme considers the 2007 start in London as a career highlight.
After organising a 100th Tour that does not stray from France, ASO is determined to spread its wings again. All that could derail the plan is a second British bid from Yorkshire, which is lobbying independently and has not sought the support of British Cycling.
Meanwhile, the 2013 route seemingly resolved that Chris Froome would be Team Sky's general-classification contender, ahead of defending champion Bradley Wiggins.
With four mountain-top finishes, as opposed to two this year, and a mountainous time trial that is among the hardest in Tour history, it has the look of a Froome course.
Wiggins, who is very tempted by an assault on the Giro d'Italia in May, said he would be happy to ride on the Tour in support of Froome.
"It was always about winning one Tour and, if I got a chance to do Italy, then it's more than likely I will ride in a supporting role for Chris, although it's for (Sky chief) Dave Brailsford to decide," Wiggins said.
"I want to be in a successful team and, if that's Chris, so be it. He will have to grow some sideburns, though."
The bookies have installed Froome as the 4/1 second favourite behind Alberto Contador on 5/2, with Wiggins at 6/1.
Froome said a decision would not be made until after a reconnaissance of the course, especially of the mountainous time trial, which is on the day before the Gap-Alpe d'Huez stage. That includes two ascents within only 40km of cycling's most famous climb.
The final call is likely to be made in the first week of January. (© Daily Telegraph, London)