Mayor of London Boris Johnson has described the decision to withdraw London's successful bid to host the start of the Tour de France in 2017 as a "no brainer". The English capital fought off competition from Edinburgh and Manchester to host the opening stages but Transport for London (TfL) has pulled out at the 11th hour due to the £35m ($53m) cost of staging the event.
After the success of the 2014 Tour, which saw the first two stages hosted in Yorkshire, with an estimated 2.5 million people lining the streets to watch the Grand Depart, race owners Amaury Sport Organisation were hopeful of returning part of the event to British shores. The race did visit London in 2007 and for stage three in 2014 but TfL and the Greater London Authority have been unable to justify a third visit from the world's biggest cycling event.
"I had to take a very tough decision, obviously painful," Johnson said. "In an ideal world, you know me, my policy is to have your cake and eat it. The difficulty was we had to make a choice. £35m is an awful lot to spend on a one-off event when you could put that money into long-term projects. What people really want is safer cycling lanes. For me it was a no brainer. You've got to make some tough choices."
Elsewhere, 26-time stage winner of the Tour de France Mark Cavendish has joined South African team MTN-Qhubeka from Etixx-QuickStep ahead of the 2016 season. The 30-year-old, whose new team will be known as Team Dimension Data from next year, underwent shoulder surgery earlier in September after falling during the Tour of Britain but is delighted to have the opportunity to reignite his career with the minnow team.
"I'm super excited about becoming a part of the Team for 2016," he told his official website. "It is a team that I have watched closely as it has grown, especially over this season and been really impressed with the spirit, strength and dynamics of the group. It's fair to say that most of the peloton has seen how incredible the team raced this year.
"To join it with the target of helping to win even more races with other strong, experienced household cycling names like Mark Renshaw, Edvald Boasson-Hagen, Tyler Farrar, Daniel Teklehaimanot, Steve Cummings and of course Bernie Eisel is going to be real special, as well as assisting the talent of the young, African riders to top-level success. I'm really looking forward to having a successful year on the road alongside the other guys and helping directly to get more bikes in the hands of people who need them."