The Tour de France will continue to grace television screens in the USA for the next five years. The cable sports network Versus announced Monday that it has extended its contract with the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) for exclusive USA rights through 2013. According to the Wall Street Journal, Versus has paid $27.5 million (€17.5 million).
"Signing a multi-year extension deal with the ASO demonstrates that the network's commitment to the Tour de France has never been stronger. We are proud to be home to one of the most intense competitions on earth and a sporting event that truly embodies the essence of the Versus brand," said Gavin Harvey, President of Versus. "With the field wide open this year, I'm confident we're going to see an unbelievable competition unfold on the race course right through to the very end. Add to that a strong presence of top American contenders and it's anyone's guess as to who will be wearing the yellow jersey on the Champs Élysées."
In an attempt to fight the sport's bad image, the network has started a new advertising campaign, titled "Take Back the Tour." The first message it has sent says, "Screw the dopers, politics and critics, the false allegations and the fair weather fans. They ripped the soul out of this race. But the Tour doesn't belong to them. We're the ones grinding every mile, pushing past the limits of pain and exhaustion. The most gruelling competition in the world – it belongs to us. We're masochists. We're believers. And it's our time. Take back the Tour." (SW)