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Christian Prudhomme at the 2023 Tour de France.

Tour director Christian Prudhomme: One Cycling project ‘doesn’t interest me’

Don't expect the ASO to give much airtime to what could become a rival racing calendar.

Christian Prudhomme at the 2023 Tour de France.

Dane Cash
by Dane Cash 13.02.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos
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As developments around the One Cycling initiative and the potential influx of Saudi Arabian money into cycling have been unfolding in media reports lately, the ASO has stayed mum on the story, but Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has finally (sort of) addressed the topic. Speaking to CyclismActu, he at first said he could not comment on the project before giving a quick assessment that was generally unenthused.

“It doesn’t interest me, and I am not convinced that many people are interested either,” Prudhomme said.

He said he does not see the project as a “threat,” but he did not go into much detail on the prospect of many of cycling’s biggest stars potentially taking their talents to a rival racing calendar, instead only addressing some of the revenue-focused changes espoused by the initiative.

In Prudhomme’s opinion, getting race coverage to the widest possible audience should be the priority, rather than making more money off of television rights or paid entry for roadside fans – money that those backing Richard Plugge’s One Cycling plans would hope to filter more into team coffers.

“The greatest strength of cycling is that it is a free sport for people standing on the side of the road. It must remain that way,” Prudhomme said. “The Amaury family has always wanted to conclude television contracts with free and, if possible, public television channels.” That, of course, means free to air, not that the ASO offers rights to those channels for free. “We only make money if we have a lot of viewers,” he said.

It makes sense for Prudhomme to prefer not to give any additional airtime to the news of an initiative that could lead to the development of rival races, and more so than most in the sport, he and his company are in a position of strength to weather the storm. The teams that support the aims of One Cycling are, by and large, attempting to wrest some power away from the ASO, which has the lion’s share of the power of all the major stakeholders within the sport of road racing.

That power largely comes from the ASO’s control of the Tour de France, one of the sport’s only major profit centers, and that has worked well enough for the entire existence of the organization that Prudhomme has little reason to even respond to potential rivals – and when he does, it’s hardly a surprise that his response is a dismissive one.

“Every time cycling has wanted to transform itself solely with money, it has failed,” Prudhomme said.

Regardless of how true that is, Prudhomme represents the organization that is thriving the most under the current system. In the face of an attempt by other stakeholders to grab more power, he and the ASO don’t appear likely to show signs of weakness any time soon.

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