As the Tour de France organisers arrived in the capital today ahead of the Grand Départ this weekend, the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, officially opened the Tour de France Permanence and Press Centre at the ExCeL Centre in London’s Docklands. The Permanence is the base for the race during its visit to London and will house around 2000 media personnel (including the very excited BikeBiz editor...)
More than two million people are expected to come and watch the race during the weekend, with one million spectators in London alone. This will bring an estimated £115m to the London and South East.
The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said:
“The Tour de France is a free event and, alongside the race itself, there will be a host of festivals and events taking place across the capital to ensure Londoners and visitors have an unforgettable weekend.
“The Tour de France Grand Départ will be the biggest sporting event hosted by London ahead of the 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games giving a taste of what is to come. London is already famous across the world for hosting world-class events. I believe this will be the most spectacular Grand Départ the Tour has ever seen and the weekend will underline London’s great sporting reputation."
The Prologue on Saturday will be an eight kilometre lap of central London, starting on Whitehall, taking in some of London’s most famous landmarks including Whitehall, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, and finishing on the Mall.
Stage One, on Sunday, will start in central London, passing close to a variety of historic and contemporary sites including Big Ben, the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Gherkin and crossing Tower Bridge close to City Hall. The race will then travel through Bermondsey, Deptford, Greenwich and Erith before heading out into Kent. In Kent the Tour will pass through Dartford, Gravesend, Medway, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone and Ashford before the stage finish in Canterbury.
There are a number of activities being organised to accompany the Tour including the People's Village - an event to celebrate and promote cycling in Hyde Park - and 18 giant screens in the capital so everyone can get a good view of the racing. Plus an additional 11,000 cycle parking spaces for spectators.
Friday: Tour de France Opening Ceremony - from 18.00 Trafalgar Square. A spectacular presentation of the riders followed by live music.
Saturday: Tour de France Prologue - a 7.9km individual sprint around central London: 13.00 Tour de France Publicity Caravan sets off ; 14.00 Riders warm up; 15.00 Race Start; 18.20 Race Ends.
Sunday: July Tour de France Stage One - A 203 km stage starting on the Mall in central London through South East London into Kent with the finish in Canterbury: Caravan leaves the Mall at 8.40; Riders leave the Mall at 10.25.