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ASO takeover of Dauphiné confirmed

The owners of the Dauphiné Libéré confirmed Thursday that the week-long French stage race will soon be owned by Tour de France organizer Amaury Sports Organisation.

Held since 1947, the June stage race was established by the French newspaper of the same name. Ownership of the paper, however, has recently changed hands and the race’s future was in doubt. In Thursday’s edition of the Dauphiné Libéré, the paper confirmed that management of the race will move over to ASO, which will eventually take full ownership.

“We have handed over the organization of the 2010 edition to ASO. Talks over ending our operation of the race are at an advanced stage,” said Henri-Pierre Guilbert, the chairman of the Dauphiné Libéré group.

Held three weeks before the Tour de France, the Dauphiné is a tough Alpine warm-up for many of the Tour’s top contenders. ASO’s takeover of the race means the French company had added to its already impressive line-up of major events, including the Tour, Paris-Nice and a number of major one-day classics as well as major events like
the Paris-Dakar Rally and the French golf Open.

According to internal sources at the newspaper the race was incurring losses annually.

Gilbert said ASO was a logical choice to take over the race.

“It’s the most legitimate choice given their experience in organizing races,” he added. “We want the race to survive. It is an important part of our regional heritage.”

ASO, which also owns races in Belgium, Oman and Qatar will henceforth own and run all the major stage races in France.

In 2008 the company also increased its stake in Unipublic, which owns the Tour of Spain, to 49 percent.

This year’s edition of the Dauphiné Libéré is likely to attract a host of big stars. Lance Armstrong, winner in 2002 and 2003, is expected to follow current yellow jersey champion Alberto Contador by competing at the race.

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