Dear ski friends,
Let me start with some moments from the history of the Tour de France.
The line between insanity and genius is said to be a fine one, and in the early 20th century France, anyone envisaging a near-2,500-km-long cycle race across the country would have been widely viewed as mad. But that didn’t stop Géo Lefèvre, a journalist with L’Auto magazine at the time, from proceeding with his inspired plan. His editor, Henri Desgrange, was bold enough to believe in the idea and to throw his backing behind the Tour de France. And so it became that, on 1st July 1903, sixty pioneers set out on their bicycles from Montgeron. After six mammoth stages (Nantes - Paris, 471 km!), only 21 “routiers”, led by Maurice Garin, arrived at the end of this first edition.
Having provoked a mixture of astonishment and admiration, le Tour soon won over the sporting public and the roadside crowds swelled. The French people took this unusual event to their hearts which placed their towns, their countryside and, since 1910, even their mountains, in the spotlight.
Le Tour has always moved with the times. Like France as a whole, it benefited from the introduction of paid holidays from 1936; it has lived through wars, and then savored the “trente glorieuses” period of economic prosperity while enjoying the heydays of Coppi, Bobet, Anquetil and Poulidor; it has opened itself up to foreign countries with the onset of globalization, and now finds itself at the forefront of the debate on a malaise afflicting world sport in general. Over a hundred years after its inception, le Tour continues to gain strength from its experience.
Well, the Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski performance by Craft Sportswear does not exist for over 100 years, but we can celebrate the 5th edition and can say that we were able to reach our targets for the first few years. The event is now established, the branding of the event is positive, the Tour TV audience in 2010 (according IFM statistics) passed over 460 million viewers. The event’s value is still increasing as the athletes also promote the event and set the Tour as one of their biggest goals of the season. The “story” of the Tour keeps the interest high over the 10 days of racing. And many details will be better this year, just think about the logistics as an example.
I wish you Merry Christmas and will come back with my next blog before the start of the Tour de Ski 2010/11.