The Scottish capital Edinburgh
is keen to host the start of the 2017 Tour de France, bid organisers said on Wednesday, hoping to replicate the success of the last time the race was held across the Channel.
EventScotland said it was working with British Cycling and UK Sport to win the right to host the prologue as well as further stages in the Scottish Borders region and even in parts of England and Wales.
"Discussions are ongoing between the UK partners and Tour organisers, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), and a very positive working relationship has been established," EventScotland said on its web site eventscotland.org
. "A number of options have been considered with the overall aim of keeping the Tour in the UK for as long as possible, while providing an exciting racing experience for riders, teams and spectators alike. Now the more formal process of working together to develop a proposal and engage with partners is underway," they added, saying that they were aiming to present a proposal that would be "both spectacular and challenging".
The showpiece Grand Depart - a short, time-trial - this year begins in the eastern Belgian city of Liege on June 30. The county of Yorkshire in northern England has submitted a formal bid to host the Tour de France prologue in 2016.
The start of the race was last held in Britain in 2007, when tens of thousands of people turned out to watch the teams race past landmark sites in the capital, London, and the countryside of the southeast county of Kent.
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said the bid had the full backing of the government in Edinburgh, adding that it would be a "huge coup" to host the event. "We have a strong track record and I know that the country has a huge amount to offer ASO and the cyclists taking part," he said in a statement.
British Cycling chief executive Ian Drake added: "The last visit to Britain by the Tour de France was a great success for all involved and is still held in very high regard by those riders that took part.
"British Cycling has embraced the opportunity to work with Scotland, helping them to fulfil their ambition of bringing the Grand Depart to Edinburgh."