Paris-Nice, Paris-Roubaix and other French races threatened by jump in costs
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Paris-Nice, Paris-Roubaix and other French races threatened by jump in costs

by Shane Stokes at 9:03 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Nice
Politicians being lobbied in order to safeguard future of key events

Tour de FranceObserving what he believes is a very serious threat to the future of French races, the French Cycling Federation (FFC) president David Lappartient has written to the country’s interior minister Brice Hortefeux to express his concerns about a jump in costs for those events.

The increase is caused by the government order of October 28th, 2010, which saw the hourly amount payable to French police by the organisers surge from €2.40 per hour to €12.33. The sum is not a wage, but is a supplementary amount payable to those who have important roles to play in ensuring that races are run off safely and well. And while the amount per individual is small, it mounts up when multiplied by the number of policemen who give their services at races.

“Our financial reserves will allow us to hold one edition [of the race] but not two, said Tour du Limousin organiser Claude Faye-Mendy to L’Equipe. “For us, the extra security is [would cost] €80,000.” To explain how that would impact on the budget, he said that this amount would otherwise cover the costs of bringing eight teams to the race. The situation will become even worse in 2014, when the costs further rise to €20 per hour per individual.

The situation already threatened the existence of one key race when VC Roubaix stated that it was cancelling the 2011 edition of the under 23 Paris-Roubaix. It said that the increase in costs made the event impossible to run. Fortunately, Tour de France organiser ASO – which runs the professional event – stepped in and said that it would make up the shortfall in funding.

ASO enjoys large profits each year and so it has some room to manoeuvre in relation to the costs of running its key event. However Tour de France technical director Jean-François Pescheux is pessimistic about the effect it could have on other races, including some of the events it runs.

“The Tour de France will survive but what will become of races such as Paris-Roubaix and the Dauphiné? It’s the end of cycle races in France,” he told l’Equipe.

The issue is one which is likely to be debated. French president Nicolas Sarkozy is an avid cycling fan and often attends the Tour, and so it is a given that he will be lobbied. Lappartient’s approach to Hortefeux is another move that will hopefully help to prompt a rethink. The sport has a clear tourism benefit, as evidenced by the large crowds which attend races like the Tour each year, and who by the number of tourists who visit the country because of the images they see on their televisions.

In fact, France is by far the world's biggest tourism destination; 2007 figures revealed more than 81.9 million foreign tourists visited, dwarfing the figures for Spain (58.5 million) and the United States (51.1 million). The huge global audience for the Tour de France is a contributory factor in stimulating the interest in the county – for example, think of the number of times ancient chateaux are deliberately highlighted in the TV coverage.

Pescheux, Faye-Mendy and Lappartient will be banking on factors such as this being considered, and so too the cultural and historical significance of cycling in France, and even pro cycling’s role in encouraging others to take up the sport. The sport has long been part of the history of the country; the push now is to ensure it’s part of the future.


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