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The Tour de France may start outside its host nation again come 2015.
With next year’s Tour set to start in Yorkshire, England, the Tour looks poised to start its 2015 edition in the Netherlands. According to a report in the Dutch newspaper, Algemeen Dagblad, the city of Utrecht is in line to host the “grand départ” year after next.
City officials would not officially confirm the news, but said they are interested in hosting the start of the Tour.
The newspaper reported that the city government has already committed 5 million euros in public funds, and will look for an additional 5 million in private donations to cover the Tour’s starting fee.
Officials confirmed they would travel to Paris this week to meet with representatives from ASO, the parent company of the Tour.
If approved, it would be the fifth time a Dutch city has hosted the start of the Tour.
There were other reports that Italy was to host the start of the Tour for the first time, but it appears that is not the case, at least for 2015.
Hosting the start of the Tour has become big business, both for ASO and for the host city, which hopes to recoup the price of the fee through tourism and raising their community’s profile.
The news comes just days ahead of the official presentation of the 2014 Tour route, set for Wednesday in Paris.
The start of the 101st Tour will be in Leeds, with a second stage starting in York, and the third ending in London. All three are road stages, so there’s neither a team time trial nor a prologue to open next year’s edition.