Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France, explodes in public: “The Tour de France is an event that unites and brings people together. Don’t break what brings people together! There are so many communities, communitarianisms, people who separate! [Il brandit le bras au ciel.] The Tour is so much more than the biggest cycling race in the world. The Tour is our country! ”
“We all have to improve”
A video uploaded this Thursday on the website of Dauphiné released shows an astonishing scene and of a rather rare anger for this kind of circumstances, captured at the start of the 17e stage of the Tour de France, Wednesday, place of the town hall in Grenoble (Isère). Some local elected officials gathered in the “departure village” are – without being directly named – publicly attacked by the organizer of an event that they have nevertheless invited (and financed). Main target: Mayor Eric Piolle who, like other elected environmentalists, criticizes “the place of women” and the “environmental” aspect of the cycling event. That day, Piolle just spoke at the microphone to reiterate his position known since 2014: “It’s necessary that it moves.” Prudhomme listens to the mayor of Grenoble then he draws.
Back on the race after his positive test for Covid and eight days of shelving, the organizer begins by defending his ecological record: “Maybe we are not moving fast enough in some areas, but we are working. Did you know that at Mont Aigoual [dans le Gard, arrivée de la 6e étape le 3 septembre, ndlr], for example, have we installed anti-straying nets for people? That everything is done in collaboration? Because we talk to people… And I think any solution is always possible, everywhere! ” Prudhomme continues: “We all need to improve: the city of Grenoble, us, the Tour de France, ASO [Amaury sport organisation, propriétaire de l’épreuve], you individually and collectively… ”
The director of the Tour then exposes what seems to be the reason for his anger: the media unpacking. “Only discussion without speaking in the media first can help, he said. It’s just common sense. ” The Greens have indeed multiplied objections on certain aspects of the event, through the press, since the PS mayor of Rennes, Nathalie Appéré, refused in August, under the influence of his allies EE-LV, to welcome the big start of the Tour de France 2021. Continuing the debate, many green councilors demanded social and environmental guarantees from ASO, in particular Pierre Hurmic in Bordeaux. Léonore Moncond’huy (Poitiers) and Grégory Doucet (Lyon) certainly attended the passage of the Tour in their city, but the candidacy had been decided by their predecessors for mayor. The two elected officials also called on the Tour de France to evolve. This is the first time since the creation of the event in 1903 that politicians of this stature have challenged the model of the race.
Christian Prudhomme affirms that the Tour de France fulfills a social role: “We will be Saturday in Haute-Saône, at the Planche des Belles Filles: 35% of unemployed at the bottom of the valleys, people who bowed their heads and lifted them up. […] Thanks to the Tour, they are raising their heads. Because they see their village, Plancher-les-Mines in Haute-Saône, which is shown around the world. And they are proud! ” The boss of the Tour adds: “I am sure that in this magnificent department of Isère, I am sure that in Grenoble, in the metro[pole], in the city people are proud. And they are even more so in our rural areas! ” Prudhomme concludes in a very serious tone: “But what brings us together, what unites us, is just common sense. Tapping on what unites us is not a mistake, it’s a mistake! “ At his side on the platform, Eric Piolle politely applauds.
Pierre Carrey on the Tour route