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Looking for publicity

For all the things Tour de France race sponsors will do to maximize the value of their investment, there are days when the effort must seem wasted. Take the bosses of the Norman cheese manufacturer, Coeur de Lion, who must have been wondering what the worth of their public performance was today. Having alerted media 24 hours earlier that 700 workers from their factory would line the road donned in their trade mark red T-shirts in what was called "Operation Coeur de Lion," what response they ever really expected is anyone's guess. But there they stood. As promised, with 15km to go in

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By Rupert Guinness, Of The Australian

Festina tries to get noticed, too.

Festina tries to get noticed, too.

Photo: Graham Watson

For all the things Tour de France race sponsors will do to maximize the value of their investment, there are days when the effort must seem wasted. Take the bosses of the Norman cheese manufacturer, Coeur de Lion, who must have been wondering what the worth of their public performance was today. Having alerted media 24 hours earlier that 700 workers from their factory would line the road donned in their trade mark red T-shirts in what was called “Operation Coeur de Lion,” what response they ever really expected is anyone’s guess. But there they stood. As promised, with 15km to go in the176km seventh stage from Bagnoles-de-l’Orne to Avranches on the Atlantic coast. Waving they were, for the fleeting moments the race went past. And yes, they were in full view of the television audience watching images shot from a helicopter following the pack from above. Too bad though that anyone who didn’t get their press release would have known what the red blur meant on either side of the road just after the race passed the Chapelle UrŽe at the 156km mark. Too bad also that the big cheeses themselves from Coeur de Lion – who were looking down from their air-conditioned offices – could have known that a few kilometers up the road three events were going to suddenly upstage any spectacle their human chain was to have created. Two crashes, the latter involving defending champion Lance Armstrong, and a stunning come-from-behind stage win by Brad McGee gobbled up any chance of column space Coeur de Lion may have been hoping for. Chances are that Miss Brittany will get a better showing in the media tomorrow, the biggest day of them all in France: July 14. Or then, will it be the Tour sponsor Aquarel that is backing the beauty queen’s appearance on the eighth stage from St. Martin de Landelle to Plouay? Now, Nestle’ – Aquarel’s parent company – has got its act together. The owner of the French mineral water producer put out notice of Celine Autricque’s appearance 48 – rather than 24 – hours in advance. She will be at the “heart” of the Tour, they say. How many hearts she’ll be in when the stage is over is anyone’s guess. Oh … almost forgot. She won’t be the only ones championing Aquarel. Jean-Yves Houssemaine, a 62 year-old fireman from Sees will be manning the Aquarel “fire truck” to spray fans along the route – maybe after Miss Brittany’s passage perhaps? Then to keep our feet on the ground, we will look out for newlyweds Veronique and Christophe Laugle’ as part of an Aquarel promotion offering a recently married couple a day on the Tour, as Married Couple of the Day. As I said, the things sponsors will do to (try to) get publicity.