French firm buys German race owner

The two German ProTour races, the Deutschland Tour and the Vattenfall Cyclassics, will soon be in French hands. Lagardère Sports announced this week that it has signed an agreement to purchase Upsolut, a German sports marketing company which owns the races. Lagardère is also a part-owner of the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), which holds the Tour de France.

Upsolut, based in Hamburg, employs 40 people and has a reported annual budget of around 10 million Euro. In addition to the two cycling races, it organises the Hamburg Cityman triathlon and markets two professional teams, the FC St. Pauli (soccer) and the Hamburg Freezers (ice hockey).

The French company also owns Sportfive, Europe's largest sports marketer, and this year also bought IEC, a Swedish sports marketing company. In a press release, Lagerdère Sports Chairman and CEO Olivier Guiguet said, "Upsolut entitles the introduction of a Lagardère Sports events division and will benefit from numerous synergies with Sportfive and IEC to expand its activity."

It has been speculated that the acquisition will allow the ASO to add the two German races to its stable and to develop its own series of races in competition with the UCI's ProTour.

The proposed acquisition was first mentioned at the end of October, was subsequently denied and has now been confirmed. It must yet be approved by the German Kartellamt, a cartel investigation institution, before it can take effect on January 1.

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