Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has criticised the much-discussed One Cycling reform project of professional cycling, confirming that ASO is not involved and so very much against the project.
“This is not our project. It’s an idea that has been launched but I can’t say much more than that. ASO is not a driving force,” Prudhomme told the French Cyclismactu website, with a warning.
“Everywhere and every time cycling has tried to transform itself solely with money, it has failed,” Prudhomme said.
The Tour de France grew globally and became the most important race in the sport in the seventies and eighties and has always defended their position and significant television revenues.
Different projects and proposals have been made by teams and former UCI presidents over the years but ASO has always used its power and influence to stifle them, forcing teams to rely on just sponsorship.
The One Cycling project is supported by a number of leading teams including Visma- Lease a Bike, Ineos Grenadiers and EF Education-EasyPost and hopes to attract venture capital to launch a new project that brings together a series of races and teams.
Last week the Reuters news agency suggested that an investment company owned by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) was considering investing $250 million in the project. However, there are contrasting reports on that investment after recent meetings in London.
A majority of WorldTour teams have dismissed the plans after being told of the details and obligations and Reuters reported that Flanders Classics was the only major race organiser involved, sparking questions about if One Cycling will ever happen.
ASO has refused to comment to Cyclingnews about the One Cycling project in recent months.
During a long interview about the Tour de France and his 18 years as race director, Prudhomme refuted that he and ASO may somehow feel threatened.
He also dismissed ideas of monetising roadside fans by charging them to watch key parts of races such as a mountain finish on L’Alpe d’Huez.
“Threat? No. I don’t want to get into that. First of all, it doesn’t interest me, and I’m not convinced that many people are interested in it,” Prudhomme said of the One Cycling project.
“The greatest strength of cycling is that it is a free sport for people on the side of the roads. That must stay.
“The Amaury family has always wanted to seek television contracts with free, general and, if possible, public service television channels. Only then do we earn money when we have a lot of viewers. There should be no mistake about the meaning of that.”
“The Tour is a giant. It’s broadcast in 190 countries, followed by 2,000 journalists. You can see the world at the side of the road, even if we’ve had difficulties with an even larger, younger and therefore more “dynamic” audience.
“That (size) is the reality of July and of the biggest cycling race in the world. Whoever would like to change something about it, they need to understand that.”