Yes to cycling, no to Grande Boucle! Why elected officials are cautious about the Tour de France

By refusing to host the Grand Départ of the 2021 Tour de France outside the cuff, the city of Rennes caused an uprising. But the selected Breton ecologists are not the first to question the economic model of the Grande Boucle.

“It’s a dated sports format.” The words about the Tour de France from Valérie Faucheux, mobility assistant and co-chair of the group of selected environmental activists from Rennes, have ignited the powder. At the beginning of the Grande Boucle 2021, the Breton capital refused to replace Copenhagen at short notice, forfeited due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

At first glance, the decision of Rennes’ municipal team, made up of socialists and environmental activists, may seem incomprehensible: cycling and ecology go hand in hand, and the development of soft mobility is a priority for selected green officials. is not the big loop.

“There is also no connection between the reception of the Tour and the development of daily bike rides, which we are the first to defend,” explain the selected ecologists in the Rennes metropolitan area. in a press release.

Valerie Faucheux thus condemns the Tour de France’s ‘carbon footprint’ of caravans and lorries, its ‘catastrophic waste management’ and its ‘sexist image of women’, referring to the hostesses on the target podiums.

Opposition and former runners stepped up to the plate

Words that hastened to condemn elected opposition leaders but also former runners, condemned a missed economic opportunity and accused environmental activists of a form of class contempt.

“It’s a political mistake,” criticized Loick Le Brun, elected from Rennes’ center-right. in Western France. “This departure would have been very good financially for the Rennes economy, the one that creates jobs, the one that supports families, the one that pays taxes so that public jobs are financed.”

“[Valérie Faucheux] is an environmental activist? She will have to watch what she puts on and where it comes from, gets annoyed in press conference, Bernard Hinault, five times and last French winner of the event. “She may be polluting more than any person on a bicycle. It makes me angry. We can not say that cycling is something backwards.. It’s ridiculous. I think she should think before she opens her mouth,” says the badger, who does not core his words.

“A Tour de France can not be refused,” explains Alain Cadec, president of Les Républicains in the Côtes-d’Armor department, in Western France. “It’s the biggest free event in the world!”

A costly cost for cities

Free, Tour de France? Not for everyone and certainly not for the cities that host it. This also underlines the municipal team: “This sealed the desire to host a stage rather than the Grand Départ, and not the refusal to host the Tour as it has been said about incorrectly remains the budgetary and financial aspect”, explains in a publication on its Facebook page the first deputy PS, Marc Hervé, while remembering his “passion” for an event that “approached [sa] youth”.

“While it is true that these major events, which Rennes has not missed in recent years (Tour de France 2015, Rugby Top 14 semi-final, World Cup …), have some economic impact, they also have a significant economic impact. cost to societies “, reminds the elected socialist. “The 700,000 euros paid directly by the host city to the organizational company ASO, to which hundreds of thousands of euros are direct services for Grand Départ, would have been added to the estimated budget for all other events planned for 2021.”

For several days, the Tour de France has been the subject of passionate debates about the organization of the Grand Départ for …

Published by Marc Herve Sure Thursday, August 13, 2020

If the city of Rennes is talking about a cost of 700,000 euros to host the Grand Départ 2021, the city of Brussels had to spend more than 4.5 million euros in 2019. To accommodate a scene, the bill is quite steep: about 80,000 euros for a start and 120,000 euros for a finish, necessarily broadcast live, so more interesting.

To these amounts paid directly to the ASO are added the costs required by the specifications of the Tour: obstacles, water and electricity supply for the caravan and the departure / arrival village … This can double the bill.

“The 700,000 euros that must be spent to host this event is equivalent to a one-year extension of the budget for the Municipal Social Action Center (CCAS), and the financial benefits have never been proven,” defends Valérie Fauchaux.

A study of Protourisme 2018 showed, however, that a ticket brought 2 euros to shops, hotels and restaurants in a city center per euro spent by the municipality.

Rennes is far from the only critical voice

Other elected officials even question the relevance of the Tour de France model. In Grenoble, EELV Mayor Éric Piolle refused to pass the Tour in his city 2019, the anniversary of the yellow jersey, born in the city of Isère. Grande Boucle will still return there in 2020 during the 17th stage and Grenoble will share the bill with its built-up area.

“We have a history of cycling, all forms of cycling including the Tour de France”, admits the alderman of France Bleu. “But the tour must be developed […]. We can no longer host events that conflict with the environmentally responsible values ​​we seek to implement. “

Etles Verts are not the only ones who are cautious about the Tour de France 2018 had Garches (LR) or Marnes-la-Coquette (DVD), in Hauts-de-Seine, informed the organizers of the Tour that the passage of cyclists would be more difficult than favorable for their city. And Nice (LR), the city of Grand Départ this year, has long refused to welcome it, arguing that it is incompatible with the tourist season.

The tour, far from an eco-green shirt

According to Ouest-France, The tour is far from an example when it comes to ecology: between 10 and 12 million spectators travel in motorhomes or cars on the side of the roads, the vehicle fleet for the event is more than 2,000 vehicles (170 for advertising caravan alone), and above all 15 million sweets distributed (2019), usually in plastic. An environmental impact was condemned last year in a forum by deputies for all stripes and non-governmental organizations.

However, ASO is making progress on this issue: distribution of waste, recycling, establishment of a green zone where runners are encouraged to specifically dispose of their waste, etc.

“For five years, together with our partners, we have initiated a policy to reduce plastic in the gifts that brands offer to the public,” explains Christian Prudhomme, head of Tour. “We have been going for several years, although we, like everyone else, could go faster. This year we will for the first time have 29 hybrid cars. There will be 100% electric cars in the trailer. I will personally use a. Three-way electric car, He emphasized.

The Tour de France now wants to show its green paw, but in addition to the ecological impact and cost, there seems to be another problem for environmental activists: that of “sports companies” that have priority over these huge sports collections.

“There is always a part of the privatization of the public space for major sporting events. The Tour de France belongs to a private company that has shareholders who expect dividends,” explains Gérard Onesta, leader of environmental activists in the Occitanie region. on franceinfo. “Can’t we imagine keeping the popular jubilation side without having the surplus?”