Ireland plans to host the first stages of the Tour de France

Ireland – both the Republic and the North – are considering making a joint bid to host the first stages of the Tour de France.

Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism and Sport, met Gordon Lyons, Minister for the Economy for Stormont, on Wednesday to discuss a possible joint bid to take part in the world famous cycle race.

Ms. Martin and Mr. Lyons have submitted an Expression of Interest for the formal bidding process to Tour organizers.

Officials from both departments will work together to explore the possibility of hosting the event in 2026 or 2027.

The Republic hosted Le Grand Départ in 1998, while Northern Ireland hosted a stage of the Giro D’Italia in 2014.

Nicolas Roche leads his Tinkoff-Saxo teammates across the line during the 2014 Giro d’Italia team time trial in Belfast

Ms Martin said: “Hosting the biggest cycle race in the world would be an exciting opportunity for the island of Ireland. I was delighted to see Minister Lyons again during my recent trip to Belfast and to agree to express a common interest in hosting three full stages of the Grand Départ of the Tour de France, ideally in 2026 or 2027.

“Our shared experience in hosting major sporting events, our co-operative approach in marketing the whole island of Ireland as a tourist destination, and the beautiful scenery and cead mile failures that await visitors in Ireland could all combine to create one incredible island. an event.

“This collaborative process has my full support and I will be engaging with colleagues across government on this in the coming weeks.”

Mr Lyons said: “Securing the early 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 taken place here in recent years. years.

“Major events like this not only bring huge economic benefits, but give us a tremendous opportunity to showcase all that is great about Northern Ireland.”