Rumours resurface about Chinese billionaire's desire to purchase Grand Tours

The 2015 yellow jersey features an Arc de Triomphe motif on the front

The 2015 yellow jersey features an Arc de Triomphe motif on the front (Image credit: Le Coq Sportif)

Chinese businessman Wang Jianllin has made concrete offers to purchase the companies that own the Tour France and Giro d'Italia, according to a recent podcast by SportsPro editorial director James Emmett.

ASO and RCS Sport own and organise the French and Italian Grand Tours, respectively, as well as other major cycling races, and Jianlin has long been rumoured to be interested in purchasing one or more of cycling's biggest events.

During an interview with UCI President Brian Cookson that took place at the SportAccord Convention Lausanne, Switzerland, Bennett said he had it on "good authority" that Jianlin had made serious offers to purchase the management companies.

"He wants to buy ASO and RCS and be the new kingpin in cycling," Bennett told Cookson when asking a question about the UCI's relationship with ASO. "Both of them are rumours, it must be stressed, although I have it on good authority that Wang Jianllin has made concrete bids for both of those organisations."

Jianlin is chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group, China's largest real estate developer, as well as the world's largest movie theatre operator. He owns 20 percent of the Atlético Madrid football team and his company recently purchased the World Triathlon Corporation.

In 2015 Dalian Wanda purchased Infront Sports & Media, a sports marketing company that distributes broadcasting rights for some of the world's biggest sporting events. Infront recently recently partnered with Velon to capture and distribute rider data during races.

Bennett asked Cookson if he was prepared for a scenario where Jianlin bought the sport's two biggest races or for ASO to create it's own "WorldTour" apart from the UCI.

Cookson said he believes it would be a mistake for the ASO to take all of their events outside of the UCI, and it would be quite difficult for them to expand outside of France.

In regard to Wanda and Wang Jianlin, Cookson said he's met the Chinese billionaire and is aware of his aspirations within the sport.

"Whether ASO or RCS or any other organizer is for sale, is a matter for them, not for me," Cookson said.

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