One of cycling’s best-connected journalists has reported this morning that ASO is in the process of taking over the Dauphiné Libéré stage race. El País cycling correspondent Carlos Arribas says that sources close to the negotiations have confirmed that a deal has been sealed.
If this is confirmed, ASO, which already owns the Tour de France, a majority share in the Tour of Spain and other events such as the Paris-Dakar rally, will control every major cycling event in France.
Organised since 1947 by the regional newspaper whose name it carries, the Dauphiné Libéré has long been regarded as one of the most prestigious events on the racing calendar, particularly because it provides a useful guide to form running into the Tour. Taking place in early June each year, it is currently run by Thierry Cazeneuve, nephew of the event’s founder.
Last year the group that controls the Dauphiné Libéré newspaper was bought by the L’Est Républicain media group based in north-east France. To mark this, the 2009 edition of the Dauphiné started well north of its traditional Alpine heartland in the city of Nancy.
It has already been announced that the 2010 edition of the Dauphiné will feature a first-ever summit finish on Alpe d’Huez. This alone is sure to make it the Tour preparation race of choice for many Tour contenders. The news that ASO has taken over the event is likely to boost the level of participation still further, especially with so many teams pushing for wild card entry into the Tour de France.