Tour races in France, California join forces

Times Staff Writer

The owners of the Tour de France and Tour of California cycling races announced Monday that they have entered a marketing and sponsorship agreement.

Considering the events’ longevity, it is an unexpected partnership between Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO), which runs the 105-year-old Tour de France, and AEG, which has the 4-year-old Tour of California. But Andrew Messick, AEG’s director of sports, said the deal would allow the companies to help each other expand broadcast opportunities in their domestic markets.

“ASO is going to help us distribute the Tour of California in terms of broadcast television and with different media partners, so hopefully we can have better television opportunities on the international side,” Messick said.

The Tour of California has been broadcast on Versus in the United States, the same network that televises the Tour de France. Messick said the agreement is also a sign that ASO doesn’t want to ignore a U.S. market which grew as Texan Lance Armstrong won a record seven consecutive Tour de France titles but had declined since American Floyd Landis had his 2006 title stripped after failing a doping test.


“ASO views the U.S. as an enormously important market,” Messick said. “They want to leverage our race, as it continues to grow, to help their race brand grow in the U.S.”

Also Monday, the U.S.-based team known as Team High Road picked a sponsorship from the sportswear company Columbia.

Team High Road was the German-based T-Mobile team until losing that sponsor after last year’s doping scandals. Bob Stapleton, a Riverside native, took over ownership of the team, moved its headquarters to California, and had been running it with his own money.