Bidding to have Le Tour in town; complicated yet worthwhile

Local bakers would start baguette production at 1 am. The bar owner opened nine hours earlier than usual and thought she’d make almost half her monthly revenue in one day.

The people and business-owners of the French town of Nuits-Saint-Georges had successfully lobbied to have the Tour de France pass through town this year and they were reveling in it.

Nuits-Saint-Geroges has been selected as a stop on Le Tour

According to a recent New York Times news story, each year about 250 cities and towns – mostly in France – bid to host a stage of the three-week bike race. About 40 are chosen.

City officials believe the honour, along with both immediate and long term benefits, are well worth the expense and effort of securing a spot on the route.

In the case of Nuits-Saint-Georges, a town just south of Dijon which is well-known for wine production, being a stop on le Tour has long been a dream. Lobbying in earnest began at a dinner in 2011. The town was host to a smaller “stage race” run by the same organization, the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), that owns and operates the Tour de France.

Over a no-doubt excellent Burgundian repast and multiple bottles of the city’s spectacular wines, local officials and winemakers made their case. But there was still a long way to go.

Route selection is done in secret though organizers aim to visit each region of France once every five years. Terrain must be beautiful for the TV cameras and challenging for cyclists.

After the banquet and in the intervening years the mayor of Nuits-Saint-Georges kept up a gentle campaign. He is reported to have said he perked up every time he saw an unfamiliar Skoda vehicle, a car company that is a race sponsor, drive through town.

A Tour visit comes at a price. The ASO charges about $88,000 to host a stage start and almost double that for a finish. Returns to a host city are substantial – not only in direct revenues from immediate and future visitors but in prestige and global exposure through TV coverage.

Earlier this year word came that the town had been selected. After years of preparation and amid much celebration, the Tour passed through Nuits-Saint-Georges on July 7.


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