Northern Ireland and Republic in joint bid to host Tour de France

Officials in Northern Ireland and the Republic have discussed making a joint bid to host the opening stages of the Tour de France.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons and Irish Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin met on Wednesday.

They have submitted an expression of interest in the formal bidding process to the Tour organisers.

The ministers say they will now investigate the potential of hosting the start of the world famous cycle race in either 2026 or 2027.

“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," said Gordon Lyons.

Northern Ireland previously hosted a stage of the Giro d’Italia, another of cycling's Grand Tours, in 2014.

The Republic hosted Le Grand Depart in 1998.

“Hosting the world’s greatest cycle race would be an exciting opportunity for the island of Ireland," added Catherine Martin. 

"I was delighted to meet Minister 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."

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