By Jean-François Quénet
Scheduled for August 23 this year, the ProTour race Grand Prix Plouay is in danger as France Television has denied them any exposure.
"We were in partnership with France Television since 1991," said Jean-Yves Tranvaux, who took over the role of race organiser after the death of Jean-Yves Perron. Perron managed to haul the World Championships to Plouay in 2000 but sadly passed away nine months before the event. "We thought we deserved media attention when we entered the premier world calendar but it's been the opposite: France Television has been ignoring us since we've been part of the UCI ProTour in 2005.
"We have contacted other TV channels," he said. "But they don't want to broadcast only one race of one sport while all the other important races are on France Television. We understand their point. A cycling season is like a series." France Television's schedule for cycling in 2009 includes Paris-Nice, the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, the Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Dauphiné Libéré, the French championship, the Tour de France, the World Championship and Paris-Tours. It also broadcasts the Critérium International, even though this race isn't part of the world calendar - but is organised by Tour de France organiser Amaury Sports Organisation.
"Without TV exposure, we cannot find new sponsors and we already have spent our savings by producing the images at our costs for three editions without any compensation," Tranvaux said. "The GP Plouay is the only race from the world calendar organised by volunteers. We were maybe naïve to believe that reaching the top level of international cycling was the right thing to do but now, we have the impression that it jeopardizes our race."
Held since 1931, the GP Plouay is the oldest professional bike race in Brittany, the hot bed of French cycling. The organiser's ProTour dream was to share the cake of the TV rights with the teams, but this has vanished after five years.