The organiser of the Tour de France, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), announced Thursday that it had acquired a 49 percent stake in Unipublic, the company which owns the Vuelta a España. The remaining 51 percent will be retained by Spanish media company Grupo Antena 3 television.
In a statement released by Unipublic, the Vuelta organiser said it had been having trouble establishing its race on the international calendar, but with the help of ASO would be able to increase visibility of the Spanish Grand Tour, held during three weeks of September.
"ASO and Unipublic will work together, starting today, with the goal of accelerating development and the presence of the Vuelta on an international level and to contribute to the strengthening of cycling," read the statement. "Through this agreement, Unipublic will benefit from the ample experience that ASO has in the management of major cycling events."
The deal was first rumoured in February and is not likely to please the UCI, whose president Pat McQuaid recently told Cyclingnews that he believed ASO had plans to create a "rival international federation."
ASO is a subsidiary of French media group Amaury, which owns newspapers Le Parisien and L'Equipe. Besides the Tour de France, ASO controls, among others, the Paris-Nice and Paris-Roubaix races as well as the Dakar Rally.
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split
October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'