There’s sometimes a fear in France of “anglo-saxon” influence, although it’s more often a misunderstanding. For example some fear their cuisine is being overtaken by le fast food, worry that Aussie wines could flood the French market, or that the European Commission in Brussels is imposing free-market reforms on a reluctant France. In each case, barbaric foreign interests are at the gate and, in that worrying phrase, something must be done.
So back to cycling and following the growth of cycling beyond its traditional base of Western Europe, the boss of the French cycling federation, David Lappartient (pictured), is trying to set up a new union of French-speaking cycling federations, to counter “the growing anglo-saxon influence in sport in general and in cycling“.
I’m not sure what this will achieve. Let’s not forget that our sport is progressing thanks to it spreading all around the world and it’s very much in the spirit of Tour de France founder Henri Desgrange and his successors that the sport opens up rather than splits into different camps defined by geography or language. Foreign success is something to be analysed and welcomed, rather than something you need to defend against. For example the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia can now sell TV rights around the world, this is something to celebrate. Similarly, the likes of Highroad and Slipstream Sports are quite beneficial to pro cycling.
Given the UCI is essentially French-speaking and that ASO organises everything from the Tour de France, the Vuelta, plus Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Paris-Roubaix and even assists at the Tour of California, French influence on the sport is massive. Still, it could be air miles galore for Lappartient and possibly an extra salary too.