The Tour de France has started five times abroad over the past eight years. Soon, the beginning of the most famous cycling race could take place in Prague.
“Prague is a beautiful city, one of the most beautiful capitals. If it stands, we will judge it with the greatest possible attention,” said the general director of the legendary race, Christian Prudhomme.
The lead course designer, Thierry Gouvenou, confirmed that Prague could enter the game of organizing the Tour. “I know that the City of Prague has already established contacts with our organizing agency ASO,” informed Gouvenou at the end of July.
Negotiations are in progress. “We are acting in cooperation with the Czech Cycling Association, with Škoda Auto and with the organizing agency,” said Prague City Councilor for Education, Sport, Science and Business Support, Vít Šimral.
The costs of the Tour organization or the start of the three-week race is millions of crowns. This year the Tour started in Brussels, next year it will start in Nice, and in 2021 the so-called Grand Départ will be host in Copenhagen.
“We’ve been doing everything we can to get the Tour to start here. Negotiations are in progress, but I can’t conclude how they will evolve. We will officially give a resolution together with our partners in three or four months” added Šimral.
This is probably why the Czech Cycling Association is slightly restrained about the Tour. “I heard that we are working on it, but I do not know anything else. When someone contacts us, we will deal with it, but now we do not know anything specific,” responded Petr Marek, president of the Cyclists’ Union.
On the contrary, Šimral remarked that at the beginning of next year a delegation of representatives of the organizing agency ASO should arrive in Prague to negotiate the submission of the candidature.
“We will submit the candidature if the preliminary negotiations confirm us that we have a real chance to organizing the event,” explained Prague councillor.
The Grand Tour cycling races have never been held in the Czech Republic, although there have been recent efforts to get the Giro d’Italia. There were speculations about 2017 or 2018 and the politician Václav Klaus Jr. (Tricolor of the Citizens’ Movement) was involved. However, negotiations were not successful, and the Giro began in 2017 in Sardinia, and a year later in Israel.
Peter Sagan’s fan page on Facebook published the profiles of three proposed stages for 2023 of the Tour in the Czech Republic, giving a hint about the efforts to organizing it in the Czech Republic.
The itineraries of the stages are presented in the official visual style of the Tour de France and, according to the label, come from La Flamme Rouge, the profile creator of the biggest bike races.
The 18.5 kilometres long Prague time trial runs from Josefov to Vítkov through points such as the Strahov Stadium and Charles Square. The next stage around the capital is 160.5 kilometres long and leads cyclists through Slaný or Beroun, including two climb bonuses. Also, a 195 kilometres long, crossing from Prague to Karlovy Vary, with several climbs and a total of five bonuses.
In the end, however, it turned out that the three proposed stages are probably only the work of La Flamme Rouge users, where cycling enthusiasts discuss races or stages and can model their route profiles.
Šimral was surprised by the stage designs. “That was ahead of us, we’re not that far,” he smiled. “We have already begun to think theoretically where the stages would lead, but we are at the very beginning, and therefore I do not want to give more details,” Prague councillor added.
The Tour de France in the Czech Republic would mean a considerable advertisement for Prague and the whole country. The situation should be more precise at the beginning of next year.