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World of Sport

19th Oct 2022

Ireland to pursue joint North and South bid for opening stages of Tour de France

Patrick McCarry

The last time ‘Le Tour’ came to Irish shores, C’est La Vie by B*Witched was top of the charts.

Politicians and sporting bodies from both sides of the border are looking to make Tour de France Ireland a reality, again.

It has been confirmed by the Department of Sport that ‘the island of Ireland intends to pursue a joint North-South bid to host the opening stages of a future Tour de France’. A statement on the matter reads:

‘Minister Catherine Martin T.D. and Minister Gordon Lyons MLA have today submitted an expression of interest in the formal bidding process to the Tour organisers. Officials in both Departments will now collaborate on the development of a detailed bid to host the event, ideally in either 2026 or 2027.

‘The agreement comes following engagement between Minister Martin and Minister Lyons, most recently last week in Belfast. The Ministers discussed the potential joint bid to host the opening stages of a future Tour de France and they agreed that such an event would have significant tourism, sports and wider benefits for the island of Ireland.’

Ireland’s Sam Bennett won the green jersey at the 2021 Tour de France. (Credit: Getty Images)

Tour de France Ireland ‘an exciting opportunity for the island’

The first, and so far last, time the Tour de France came to Ireland was in 1998.

The world’s biggest cycling event had two opening stages in Dublin, with a third stage going from Enniscorthy to Co. Cork. Marco Pantani of Italy ended up winning the Yellow Jersey. Catherine Martin T.D., Minister for Sport and Media, said:

“Hosting the world’s greatest cycle race would be an exciting opportunity for the island of Ireland.  I was delighted to meet Minister Gordon Lyons again during my recent trip to Belfast and to agree to express a joint interest in hosting three full stages for Le Grand Départ of the Tour de France, ideally in 2026 or 2027.

“Our shared experience in hosting major sports events, our cooperative approach in marketing the entire island of Ireland as a tourism destination, and the wonderful scenery and céad míle fáilte that awaits visitors to Ireland could all combine to create an amazing all-island event. This collaborative process has my full support and I will engage with colleagues across Government on this in the coming weeks.”

Gordon Lyons MLA, Minister for the Economy, welcomed the joint bid by saying, “Securing the opening stages of the Tour de France would be a fantastic opportunity for Northern Ireland to feature on the world stage and add to the growing list of major sporting events that have come here in recent years.

“People will fondly remember the success of the Giro d’Italia ‘Big Start’ in 2014, and I am confident that together we would be able to successfully host the Grand Depart. Major events such as this not only bring about huge economic benefits but give us a tremendous opportunity to showcase everything that is great about Northern Ireland.”

All going well, ‘Tour de France Ireland’ can bring us all together for some rapid cycling action, in the next four to five years.