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2015 Tour de France to start in Dutch city of Utrecht

MILAN (VN) — Utrecht’s successful bid to host the start of the 2015 Tour de France, announced this morning, only continues the recent trend of grand tours going abroad. The end does not appear in sight, and rightly so, as both organizers and their foreign hosts are benefiting.

Aleid Wolfsen, the mayor of the Dutch city, said this morning that his local organizing committee put together a bid of 10 million euros ($13.4 million). Half of that came from the city and the committee was able to obtain the other half from businesses.

“It is good for the Netherlands, good for the city and the region, and good for sport,” Wolfsen said, according to Dutch website NU. “It is a culmination of everyone’s efforts. Businesses made a significant financial contribution, which is unique, especially in these economic times.”

Just yesterday, the city council accepted the financing proposal. Once the money was confirmed, they had council members had little reason to disagree. The economic impact is estimated to be 10 times greater than the investment.

Andrew Denton, Head of Media for Yorkshire’s Grand Départ, told VeloNews last year that the amount of their winning bid for the 2014 Tour start is confidential. He said it was “considerably less” than 10 million British pounds, but added, “We believe it will be worth £100m to us.”

Belfast and the surrounding area stand to earn $16 million, or 2.6 times their initial investment to host the 2014 Giro d’Italia. Next year’s edition starts with two stages in Belfast and sees its third travel over the border to Dublin. Last year, The Belfast Telegraph estimated the cost to be 3.8 million pounds, ($6.13 million) with an impact of 10 million pounds ($16 million).

The trend

Utrecht will mark the Tour’s 102nd edition and its 21st trip abroad. The first time was in 1954, which was just down the road in Amsterdam, but the majority of its travels have come in recent times. From 2006 to 2015, over a 10-year period, 60 percent of the Grand Départs have been (or will be) on foreign soil.

The Vuelta a España has only been abroad twice in its 68 editions. The Giro d’Italia will mark its 11th trip abroad next year in Belfast. Its first was only in 1965 but 40 percent of its starts over the most recent 10-year-period have been (or will be) foreign.

Cities and regional governments keep calling organizers, too. Utrecht was already in the running to host the 2010 Tour start but the city and Düsseldorf lost out to Rotterdam. It hosted a Giro stage finish in 2010, which Tyler Farrar (Garmin) won, and kept knocking on the door of the Tour’s organizer, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO).

“It’s an international event. Two billion people worldwide are watching the Grand Départ, images of Utrecht will be sent around the world,” Councilor Hans Spigt told local radio and TV broadcaster, RTV Utrecht.

“It’s a big event, also for business and this city’s economy. It creates a lot of job opportunities and a very nice celebration.”

The organizers are happy cities are ready to pay for their races regardless of borders. France and Italy are some of the most impacted countries in the Eurozone Crisis. This morning, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) cut France’s credit rating to AA from AA+. It becomes clear that going abroad makes good sense for everyone involved in the grand tour business.