Japanese city to host TdF event - report
A Japanese city is to host a special event under the Tour de France banner in October to mark the 100th edition of cycling's most prestigious race, a report said on Friday.
Saitama City, north of Tokyo, and tour organisers Amaury Sports Organisation will soon reach a formal agreement and then announce the project, said the mass circulation Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.
The two sides are considering inviting some 50 top cyclists to the "All Stars" exhibition, which will come after the Tour's title race takes place in June and July in France.
Saitama city mayor Hayato Shimizu visited France last year to see the tour and held talks with senior officials, the Yomiuri said.
Saitama has proposed a "Criterium" race in which cyclists go around certain districts several times, the daily said, adding that it hopes to continue hosting the exhibition annually.
An official from the Saitama Sport Commission said: "It is true that we are negotiating plans to host Tour de France, but we are not at the stage where we can make an announcement."
Saitama prefecture has more bicycles per head of population, at 0.76, than any other Japanese prefecture, the Yomiuri said.