Alpecin-Fenix raises €50,000 with 'Merci Poupou' project started at Tour de France

Alpecin-Fenix's Mathieu van der Poel in Poulidor-inspired jersey used to raise funds for Merci Poupou project
Alpecin-Fenix's Mathieu van der Poel in Poulidor-inspired jersey used to raise funds for Merci Poupou project (Image credit: Alpecin-Fenix)

Alpecin-Fenix raised €50,000 with their Merci Poupou project, which was launched at the onset of their Tour de France debut this year to celebrate the legacy of Raymond ‘PouPou’ Poulidor, a Tour legend and grandfather of riders David and Mathieu van der Poel.

The funds will be divided equally among five non-profit organizations, selected for helping children and vulnerable groups doing sports and engaging in movement activities. Three of the non-profit organisations were confirmed this week by the Belgian team - Athletes for Hope Belgium rehab meadow, Giro d'Italia Ciclocross, and WAC Team based in Belgium. 

The team also announced on Friday that the two final grants of €10,000 each will be awarded in mid-January using an application process for any “institutions, associations or non-profit organizations that help children, youth, and people with various disabilities to engage in movement activities or sports”.

Online applications will be available from January 1 to 15 for non-profit organisations at the Merci Poupou project web site. (opens in new tab) The recipients will be determined by a panel of the eight Alpecin-Fenix riders who participated in the 2021 Tour de France along with team management. 

The ProTeam, which secured an automatic place in the Tour de France after topping the team ranking in 2020, lined up in July with Van der Poel, Silvan Dillier, Tim Merlier, Xandro Meurisse, Jasper Philipsen, Jonas Rickaert, Kristian Sbaragli and Petr Vakoč. 

Van der Poel won stage 2 of the Tour de France atop the summit of the Mûr-de-Bretagne and was able to pull on the maillot jaune. In his first appearance at the Tour, it was a feat the Alpecin-Fenix rider dedicated to his late grandfather, who finished on the podium of the Tour eight times without winning it. His teammate Merlier went on to win stage 3, and Van der Poel wore the yellow jersey for six days.

The team turned heads at the team presentation ceremony of the Tour when Alpecin-Fenix riders unveiled purple and amber kits inspired by Poulidor from his days on the Mercier team in the 1960s and 1970s. The jersey was not worn in the race but was sold online to raise funds for the Merci Poupou project. 

In addition to the grant distributions to assist these youth organisations financially, the Merci Poupou fund will strive to build a long-term and sustainable relationship with all these initiatives to be a supportive partner over the next years.

December grant recipients:

Athletes for Hope Belgium opened a unique and beautiful rehab meadow in the spring of 2021. This meadow is open to children with paralysis as well as all children with disabilities, for either physical or mental rehabilitation. 

Giro d'Italia Ciclocross is a series of events held in different Italian regions from October to January that encourages young Italian cyclists to discover cyclo-cross in a child-friendly environment. The events are organised by ‘Romano Scotti’ Amateur Sports Association, and in just over 12 years has reintroduced the sport of cyclo-cross to hundreds of juniors from ages six to 18.

WAC Team is one of the oldest cycling clubs in Flanders, established in 1940, and strives for gender equality and inclusion in the development of talents for boys, girls and para-athletes. The club has 125 members between the ages of 8 and 18, and runs entirely on volunteers.

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Jackie Tyson
Production editor

Jackie has been involved in professional sports for more than 30 years in news reporting, sports marketing and public relations. She founded Peloton Sports in 1998, a sports marketing and public relations agency, which managed projects for Tour de Georgia, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Cycling. She also founded Bike Alpharetta Inc, a Georgia non-profit to promote safe cycling. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp. She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times (not fast). Her favorite road rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in Provence (France), and some mtb rides in Park City, Utah (USA).