Ireland has withdrawn its cross-border bid to host the opening stage of the Tour de France in 2026 or 2027. lorian Frison/DPPI Media / Alamy Live News
Tour de France

Ireland's cross-border bid to host Tour de France 'Grand Départ' withdrawn

Bid to host the iconic race’s opening stage in 2026 or 2027 cannot proceed in the absence of an elected government in Northern Ireland.

IRELAND’S CROSS-BORDER BID to host the Tour de France’s ‘Grand Départ’ in 2026 or 2027 has been withdrawn.

The bid to bring the race back to these shores was first tabled in late 2022 when the Government and the Northern Ireland Executive submitted a joint expression of interest.

The Grand Départ, the opening stages of the iconic cycling race, previously took place in Ireland in 1998. 

The decision to withdraw the bid, first reported by the Irish Independent, was confirmed on Tuesday.

Northern Ireland’s Department for the Economy said their part in the bid could not progress “due to funding reductions this year and a lack of certainty about the budget position in future years”.

Speaking on the News at One on RTÉ Radio 1, Thomas Byrne, Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, said there had been “genuine interest” on both sides of the border “from an economic, a touristic, [and] a sporting perspective.

“But quite frankly, with the lack of an elected political government in Northern Ireland, the civil servants who are effectively running the show aren’t really able to proceed with this, and simply don’t have the funding, so it simply can’t happen.

“The Grand Départ simply can’t get off the ground. It’s a real pity actually. We would have loved to have done it.”

Minister Byrne also confirmed that there had been “very little” cost to the Government to advance the proposal to this early stage.

“It couldn’t really proceed to the next level without political direction really in Northern Ireland. That’s the simple reality of it.”

Regarding another major sporting event which Ireland has been confirmed to host — the 2027 Ryder Cup in Adare Manor, Limerick — Minister Byrne said “every effort” will be made to complete the planned new bypass for the town in advance of the event.

“The Government obviously approved this in November last year. It was clear at the time that it will be tight to get it done.

“As I understand it, everybody, which is Limerick County Council, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, the Department of Transport, they all want to make this happen, so I would like to see everybody going all-out to try to make this happen.

“It’s clearly very, very important, not just for the Ryder Cup, we shouldn’t just be doing roads for particular events, but clearly Adare is somewhere that needs a bypass pretty urgently. I think anybody who travels that road knows that.

“We want to make sure that happens, and every effort from the Department of Sport and Tourism will be made to ensure the pressure is maintained to make sure that does happen and the deadline is made.”

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel