Qatar bid to host Tour de France

QATAR has launched an audacious bid to host the opening stage of the Tour de France in 2016.

The Grand Depart is often held in a neighbouring country, with London kicking off the 2007 Tour, but moving to the Middle East would be a major change in policy.

The Gulf kingdom is becoming an increasingly powerful force in world sport and announced its arrival as a key player last year when it won the right to host football’s World Cup in 2022.

State-owned Qatar Airways was the official airline of the Tour this year, while the country’s investment arm has dipped its toes into France by taking over football club Paris Saint Germain.