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Report: ASO buys Dauphiné Libéré

France’s iconic week-long stage race, the Dauphiné Libéré, may soon belong to the growing empire of the Amaury Sports Organization (ASO).

That’s according to a report in El País, which posted a story Tuesday on its web page that ASO – which owns such races as the Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix and Paris-Nice – will take control of the June event. The Spanish daily cited sources close to the deal.

There was no official response from ASO on Tuesday.

The Dauphiné Libéré – held each June as a warm-up to the Tour de France – was the last of the big French races that was not owned by ASO.

The race began in 1947 and was backed by the regional newspaper of the same name. Held in eastern France in the shadow of the Alps, the race quickly drew the sport’s top stars to test their fitness on the high climbs of the French Alps ahead of the Tour each June.

The race was struggling with sponsorship dollars the past few years, however. In 2009, the daily was purchased by rival media group of L’Est Republicain and the race started in Nancy, far north of its original range.

The purchase would give ASO even more heft on the international stage.

The company also owns Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Flèche Wallonne, Criterium International, Paris-Tours and a controlling interest in the Vuelta a España.

The race is scheduled for June 6-13, with a summit finish atop Alpe d’Huez.

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