New ASO event in Argentina?

Tour de France organiser and government negotiate new race in 2011

The world of cycling may well gain a new race on the South American continent next year. According to Argentinean newspaper El Cronista, Tour de France organiser Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) - who also owns the Rallye event Paris-Dakar held in Argentina since 2008 - is currently negotiating with the Tourism ministry of the local government in view of setting up a new stage race as soon as next year.

"This could be a four-day competition that would take place at the end of March or beginning of April next year," said Tourism minister Enrique Meyer.

ASO already owns and/or organises several other stage races outside of its French home country, like the Tours of Qatar and Oman, on top of such Classic one-day races like the Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in Belgium. It also has a marketing collaboration contract with the Tour of California and last year bought 49 percent of the capital holding that organises the Vuelta a Espana.

"It is necessary for cycling to become more international and global," Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme told Le Figaro earlier this year. "The objective of the next 10 or 15 years will be to make the link between the bike of the average man and pro racing. One way of promoting that is to go to different countries."

The Argentinean government is also very happy about the collaboration and hopes a deal will be reached soon. "ASO will make the decision by mid-september," added Meyer.

"The realisation of these events [Paris-Dakar and the new cycling race - ed.] shows that our country can host similar activities to a great Tour de France. This will be important not only for the wide media coverage it will generate in Europe, but also for ourselves, Argentinean and South American," he said.

Moreover, the Argentinean Sports Ministry is also very close to being awarded the organisation of the Mountain Bike World Championships in Patagonia. "We are in the semi-finals to organise the Worlds; it would take place in La Angostura, San Martín de Los Andes or Bariloche," Meyer revealed.

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