The mayor of Florence has confirmed that the Tuscan Renaissance city and the neighbouring Emilia-Romagna region have joined forces in the hope of hosting the first ever Tour de France Grand Depart in Italy.
Despite Italy's long heritage of cycling success and Tour de France victories thanks to Ottavio Bottecchia, Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi, Gastone Nencini, Felice Gimondi, Marco Pantani and Vincenzo Nibali, the Tour has never started in Italy, with only occasional stage finishes cross the Alps from France into Italy.
Tuscany hosted the 2013 UCI Road World Championships and Emilia Romagna hosted the Grande Partenza of the 2019 Giro d'Italia but now they want to use the huge international appeal of the Tour de France to promote the central Italian regions.
"We want to collaborate with Emilia Romagna to host the initial stage of the Tour de France close to the Apennines,” Dario Nardella, mayor of Florence said, revealing it would be part of the 'Rinasce Firenze' regeneration programme.
Both Emilia Romagna and Tuscany have been hit by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic but not as badly as Lombardy in the north. The most serious impact is a major loss of international tourism, hence the need to promote the regions and their capitals Florence and Bologna.
"Our desire is to attract the major international sporting events to the city. We've already started working with Emilia-Romagna for the 2032 Olympics."
“Emilia-Romagna launched its candidacy for the Tour de France Grand Depart in recent weeks and it'd be a historic event because while the Tour de France has started from a number of countries outside France, it has never started from Italy. By joining the forces of two regions like Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, we have a very strong candidacy for a Tour de France start in the years to come."
The Grand Depart has started in London, Yorkshire, Brussels and Utrecht in recent years and will roll out of Danish capital Copenhagen in 2021. Race organiser ASO openly courts locations out of France to secure higher fees from the candidates.
The recently elected Emilia-Romagna president Stefano Bonaccini had planned to travel to Paris to present the regions plans before the COVID-19 lockdown.
"The Grande Boucle has never started in our region in Italy. It's time we put that right," he said in a book on his election campaign. The rescheduled 2020 Tour de France is due to start in Nice on August 29.