© A.S.O. Ken Livingstone
I am delighted to announce that the Tour de France will start from London in 2007. The Capital will welcome around 200 of the world’s best cyclists to battle on the streets of London for the legendary yellow jersey.
This will be a unique experience and the first time that the greatest cycle race in the world has visited our city. Over three days the start of the race, known as the Grand DÃ©part, will include the Opening Ceremony and Prologue race in central London. The race will also visit Kent, the Garden of England, where Stage 1, which begins in London, will finish in Canterbury. London and Canterbury have been linked for many centuries, first by the Romans who built Watling Street and later in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Again these two cities will be linked by the world’s most popular annual sporting event.
Three weeks after setting out from London the riders and their entourage will arrive in Paris where the race traditionally finishes. Paris and London, two of the greatest cities in the world have close links forged over many years. In 2007 our ties will be strengthened further.
My vision for London is a city where increasing levels of cycling will create a more sustainable transport system and improve the health of Londoners. I am certain that the Tour de France will inspire people to take up cycling to get around London or as a leisure pursuit. Who knows, inspired by this event a future winner of the Tour de France could be a Londoner!
Mayor of London
When the Tour de France crosses its borders into a neighbouring, friendly country for a few days, it often has a dual mission.
Firstly to thank that country and its inhabitants, in a way, for the role they play in enhancing the Tour’s renown and influence. With the riders who have helped shape its history, such as Brian Robinson, Tom Simpson, Barry Hoban, Robert Millar, Sean Yates and Chris Boardman, the British contribution has been significant. The media who cover the event, including today ITV, play their full part in spreading its fame, as do British cycling tourists who, like many others, come to try out the famous French mountain roads to get a taste for the Tour and its famous climbs.
More than a major world sporting event, the “Big Loop” is a true social phenomenon, which is why we also like to see it support the key changes of our times. It brings people and lifestyles closer together, working alongside each other in technological projects – such as the Channel Tunnel! The event also inspires us to rediscover the pleasures of cycling as a leisure activity in our countrysides or as a means of transport in our city centres.
It is with this aim in mind which, on the one hand, associates history and emotion and, on the other, pragmatism and modernity, that, under their Mayor Ken Livingstone, the London authorities have expressed the desire to bring the Tour de France into the heart of the British capital at the beginning of July 2007. The world’s leading cycling competition taking in some of the world’s most prestigious sites is more than a symbol. It is the meeting of two commitments which share an open-minded spirit. While the Tour confirms its international vocation, London boosts its dynamic, sporting image.
Thus, for four or five days, Londoners and the British in general can be proud to rub shoulders with champions, attend the presentation of teams, the opening ceremony, applaud each competitor during the prologue and watch the Official Start. The details of all these events, as set out in this document, have been agreed between Amaury Sport Organisation, on the French organisers’ side, and Transport for London, on the British organisers’ side.
July 2007 is still some way away, but excitement is already building up. Our London hosts have already given us proof of their enthusiasm and their commitment to this event. They and we are both convinced that a Tour de France fought out between London and Paris, between Trafalgar Square and the Champs-Élysées, can be nothing short of a great Tour de France.
Let’s all get ready!
Director of the Tour de France
The Permanence will be at ExCeL, London’s premier exhibition and convention centre.
It is located next to London City Airport and is served by two stations, Custom House and Prince Regent station.
On Friday 6th July 2007 the teams will be presented in Trafalgar Square, the very centre of London.
At the south side of the square is a plaque that marks the point that all distances to London are measured from.
In the square is Nelson’s Column, on top of which stands a statue of Lord Nelson, surrounded by fountains and four bronze lions.
The National Gallery stands on the north side of the square. The square was transformed into a pedestrian only area in front of the National Gallery in 2003 and now welcomes thousands of Londoners and visitors every day.
It is a focal point for celebrations to mark events, such as New Year’s Eve and English victories in the 2003 Rugby World Cup and 2005 “Ashes” cricket tournament.
On Saturday 7th July 2007, starting on Whitehall, in front of Trafalgar Square, the riders will race past Downing Street towards Parliament Square on an 8 km course.
Turning at the Houses of Parliament, the route goes along Victoria Street, past Westminster Abbey and in front of Buckingham Palace.
After the Palace the riders will pass through the middle of Wellington Arch, before looping through London’s most famous park, Hyde Park.
Finally the riders will pass back around Hyde Park Corner and along Constitution Hill, before ending on The Mall with Buckingham Palace as a backdrop.
On 8th July 2007 the Tour will take in some of Britain’s most picturesque and historic towns. The route starts on The Mall, runs through Admiralty Arch and then proceeds alongside the Thames down to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. The riders will cross The Thames before riding past the London Eye and looping back to take in St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London. The riders will pass over Tower Bridge, through Bermondsey and Deptford to Greenwich where they will cross the Greenwich Meridian Line, where all time zones are measured from. The route then passes through Woolwich, Abbey Wood and Erith, before leaving London for Dartford in Kent.
The route then goes through Gravesend and on to Medway, dominated by Rochester Castle and Cathedral. Passing on through Maidstone the route will take the riders to Tonbridge and then on to Royal Tunbridge Wells. The route winds through the beautiful Kent countryside, through the picturesque town of Tenterden and past Ashford to a potentially nail biting finish in Canterbury.
London is well served by excellent transport links from the rest of Europe and further afield.
London has five airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton Airport and London City Airport. Long-haul travellers will usually land at either Heathrow or Gatwick. Many low-cost airlines operate from Stansted or Luton while London City offers convenient flights to Paris and is located 4 kms from ExCeL for the Permanence.
London has many rail stations. The Eurostar terminal is at Waterloo and other major stations include Victoria and King’s Cross. The main station for coach arrivals from Europe is Victoria Coach Station (close to Victoria train station).
By car, London is well served with motorways and major roads, while access from mainland Europe is both by ferry and via the Channel Tunnel.
It was in 1974, after a start from Brest, that the Tour de France first travelled from Brittany to England, with a circuit stage in Plymouth. It aroused interest and praise from the critics, but no more.
However, twenty years later, when the Tour crossed the Channel (via the Tunnel) to visit England for the second time, it was an immense public success on the roads leading from Dover to Brighton, and then in Portsmouth.
From a sporting point of view Bill Burl and Charles Holland were the first British riders to attempt the Tour de France in 1937, but it wasn’t until the first British team took part in the 1955 race that a British rider made it to the finish in Paris. Of the ten members of that 1955 team two men, Tony Hoar and Brian Robinson, managed to finish the race, while their team mates fell foul of saddle sores, broken bones and a plague of punctures.
Brian Robinson from the 1955 team went on to complete a further 6 Tour de France races, winning 2 stages in 1957 and 1956. Tom Simpson followed Robinson into riding in the Tour and rode 7 times. Barry Hoban rode an impressive 12 Tours between 1964 and 1978, winning 8 stages over this time. Michaël Wright competed in 8 over the same period and won 3 stages.
In the late 70s and early 80s, Paul Scherwen participated seven times in the Tour de France and Graham Jones five times. Robert Millar was present at the start eleven times between 1983 and 1993, winning three stage victories, along with the Best Climber classification in 1984. As for Max Sciandri, he took part in seven editions of the Tour in the 1990s and won one stage victory.
In 1994, Chris Boardman broke a record by winning the prologue in Lille at a staggering average speed of 55,152 Km/h. The “yellow shirt” was worn by Sean Yates that same year.
British riders have won 23 stages in total and the first to wear the Yellow Jersey was Tom Simpson in 1962. He was also ranked sixth in the overall final classification that year. David Millar was the last British rider to wear the Yellow Jersey, in 2000. That same year, during the time trial at the Start of the Tour from the Futuroscope, he won the first of his three stage victories on the Tour.