Tour de France cycling boom helps French family firm make half a billion euros
Groupe Amaury, the closely held family business that owns the Tour de France, saw revenue jump by nearly a fifth last year, driven in part by a surging interest in the world’s most famous bike race.
Revenue climbed to €550 million ($616 million) in 2022, a gain of 17%, a company representative said. Although they declined to break out revenue for Amaury Sport Organization, which controls the Tour De France, ASO represented 41% of the group’s revenue in 2021, according to the latest public accounts.
The 110th edition of the world’s most famous cycling race is heading into the final weekend of the 3,405-kilometer (2,116-mile) competition. Defending champion Jonas Vingegaard fought off a challenge from former winner Slovene Tadej Pogacar in the Alps this week, crushing him in a mountain time trial, and heads into Paris on Sunday, all but guaranteed of a second consecutive Tour victory.
Founded in 1944 by Emilien Amaury and later inherited by his son Philippe, the family firm is still controlled by Philippe’s widow, Marie-Odile Amaury, and owns a variety of flagship brands in France, including media outlets L’Equipe and France Football.
Locked down with few ways to exercise during the pandemic, many fitness fanatics bought $1,500 Peloton stationary bikes or took to racing with friends virtually on the cycling app Zwift. Amid that general uptick in cycling interest, the Tour de France has in turn benefited from more racing content on streaming platforms, deals for an official video game, and partnerships with the sports social network Strava.
Last year the race pulled in 41.5 million viewers on the French public service broadcaster France Télévisions, the highest since 2011. The three-week tour also enjoyed plenty of pre-race publicity this spring from the gritty Netflix documentary "Tour de France: Unchained."
ASO also owns major cycling competitions including Spain’s La Vuelta and Paris-Roubaix, as well as the Paris Marathon and the off-road Dakar Rally. ASO declined to provide its most recent revenue figure, citing the “highly competitive environment” in which it operates.
In a booming era for sports financing, where almost all teams and leagues in different competitions across the globe seem to be on sale, the Tour de France remains off-limits.
NOT FOR SALE
“The Group is an independent, family-owned company. We intend to remain independent in order to develop our activities with a long-term vision,” an ASO spokesperson said.
The Tour de France, which was first run in 1903, is one of Group Amaury’s most valuable assets, and one of the few sporting events still controlled by a family office. ASO controls the organization of the race, including marketing and media coverage. It’s involved in selling television rights, sponsorship and hospitality.
On Sunday, Vingegaard will likely claim the coveted yellow jersey on Paris’ Champs Elysees. On the same day, in Clermont-Ferrand about 400 kilometers south of Paris, the Tour de France Femmes will kick off.
The women’s Tour has a precedent in the 1980s but was scrapped in 1989 and only revived last year with the sponsorship of Zwift, a company that offers virtual training for running and cycling. The route covers 956 kilometers in one week, compared with 3,405 kilometers in three weeks for the men.
“With the support of our partners and significant media coverage, the economic model seems to be on the right track,” said the ASO spokesperson, adding that it will continue to invest in the race to “ensure its sustainability.”