By Jean-François Quénet in Loudenvielle
During the first week of the Tour de France, the population of France, including the numerous foreigners present in July in the most touristic country of the world, seemed to have fallen in love with their favourite bike race again. An average of 5.4 million people watched the race live during the first week of the event (39% of shares). However, the news isn't all rosy as the viewership had a slight decline during the second week, dropping to an average of 3.5 million daily (38% of shares).
Surprisingly, local broadcaster France Televisions announces that viewership "keeps increasing", but that's compared to last year when the audiences of the Tour de France had fallen apart drastically following the Operación Puerto. A peak was reached when 7 million people in France watched Christophe Moreau attacking several times in stage eight up to Tignes but only 6.1 million were again in front of their TV when Michael Rasmussen accelerated in stage 14 up to the Plateau de Beille.
Is it only due to the lack of performance of the wearer of the French champion jersey in the second part of the Tour de France? According to a survey conducted by Sunday paper Le Journal du Dimanche, 78% of French people deny any credibility to the yellow jersey. One year after Floyd Landis tested positive, the controversies around Michael Rasmussen don't help cycling to regain a positive image in the country of the Tour de France.