EDINBURGH could host a Tour de France grand depart as early as 2014, it was announced yesterday.

Originally the EventScotland bid, backed by British Cycling, was aiming for 2016/17, but Tour organisers ASO have now intimated they would like to bring that date forward. A decision could be made as early as next month.

"With Bradley Wiggins' success I think ASO want to capitalise on that as quickly as possible in Britain," said Jonny Clay, a director of British Cycling.

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If successful the proposed route would see the opening four stages of the Tour take place in the UK, starting in Scotland before moving through England and Wales to finish as close to the south east of the country as possible to maximise ease of transfers to France.

Plans to hold an opening prologue time trial through the streets of the capital have been shelved, however, in favour of a road stage which would start in Edinburgh and finish in either south east Scotland or just over the border in England.

"We will still get the chance to show off the city," said Stuart Turner, International Events Director for EventScotland. "We would love the economic impact and kudos of a time trial, but the four road stages is a much stronger race composition for the ASO."

Susan Swarbrick