- - Tour de France Heir Wants Women's Race in the USA

Tour de France Heir Wants Women's Race in the USA

Chairman of family-owned Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), Jean-Etienne Amaury, says she wants a financial backer in the USA to help support a women’s week-long edition of the Tour de France. 

This year, the US-based Specialized Bicycle, sponsored an inaugural one-day race for women at this year’s Tour de France called La Course, which took place on the closing day of the men’s race along the famous Champs Elysee. 

According to Amaury,  the women’s event attracted more interest in the United States than in most of Europe.

“It would make sense” to have a U.S. company as backer of a longer event, Amaury, 37, said in a phone interview. “There was a pretty strong audience in the United States.”

In addition, Amaury said, although the race’s infrastructure would be costly, a flood of sponsorship signage along the 2,000-mile (3,200 kilometer) course would be significant enough to offset cost and create  profit.

Furthermore,  Amaury said, awarding broadcast rights would further reduce costs and add to profits as well. For example, in both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, Italian and French media companies shoulder the entire cost of broadcasting the events, awhile at the same time, generating a wealth of revenue for themselves and the race organizers through advertising.  

Previously, ASO held a women’s Tour de France from 1984 until 1989. The race was discontinued because it didn’t garner much fan or media attention during that period. However, after a petition led by athletes including Olympic road-race champion Marianne Vos in 2013, ASO agreed to hold La Course and has announced plans to do so again next year.

Vos subsequently won the inaugural race, which was aired on Comcast Corp.’s Universal Sports. And, according to the company’s senior vice president, Robert James, the event received “tremendous” feedback from viewers and advertisers. 

According to professor Rick Burton of Syracuse University’s sports management department, the prospects of getting a large US backer for a well televised women’s race are high. 

“There’s probably going to be a pendulum swing for women in general” in sports sponsorship after National Football League player Ray Rice was filmed punching his then fiancee in an elevator, Burton said. “It’s going to be appealing for companies that want to target the earning power of U.S. women.”

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