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Fans hit out at £45-85 cost of traditionally free event; race director Prudhomme sees Leeds show as "template" for the future...

Organisers of the Tour de France Grand Départ in Yorkshire were yesterday forced to defend themselves against accusations of setting “outrageous” ticket prices for the team presentation in Leeds two days before the race begins – with the cost ranging from £45 to £85 for the event at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on Thursday 3 July.

Many fans directed their anger at the Le Tour Yorkshire Twitter feed, which responded throughout the day by pointing out that the event was being staged on a not-for-profit basis, that it would be on an unprecedented scale including as yet unspecified live acts, and that the venue was being provided free of charge.

Here’s one exchange:

Some queried why the presentation was not being held in a public, outdoor space such as the city’s Jubilee Square, where more people would be able to watch it – and for free, as usually happens, including last year when teams were introduced to fans at the harbour of the Corsican town of Porto-Vecchio, and in London’s Trafalgar Square in 2007.

With what will be the 101st edition of the race approaching, as far as road.cc is aware there is a precedent of sorts for people being charged to attend a Tour de France team presentation.

That came three years ago, when it was held at a mock Gallo-Roman amphitheatre at the Puy du Fou theme park in France’s Vendée region; road.cc understands that while there was no separate charge to get into the arena itself, spectators did have to pay the park's 30 euro entrance charge.

Philip McDonald, sociology of sport lecturer at Leeds Trinity University, said that the ticket process for July’s event were “outrageous”.

He told the Yorkshire Post: “These events are traditionally free. With the exception of the one in 2011 they do not charge people for these things.

“It does seem otherwise free events are being priced out of the range of the majority of families,” he added.

In a press release yesterday, Le Tour Yorkshire said that the team presentation was on an unprecedented scale and it would be the first time the riders had been accompanied by live entertainment, with details of artists taking part to be revealed over the coming weeks.

The event is being overseen by Martin Green, who as head of ceremonies for the London 2012 Olympic Games helped deliver the opening and closing ceremonies.

Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity, who has described the event as a chance to “be part of a once-in-a-lifetime event for our county,” told the Yorkshire Post: “This is a not-for-profit event and ticket revenue will fund the event and help ensure that we deliver the biggest team presentation ceremony ever.

ASO sees the event as a blueprint for future editions of the Tour, although it's unclear whether that's in terms of the size of it, or charging people to attend, or both.

If the latter, that could mean that those who were lucky enough to be in Porto-Vecchio in July last year will be the last to have seen the riders introduced without having to pay.

Race director Christian Prudhomme said that July’s presentation “will be a first for the Tour and we hope it will become a template for team presentations in the future. It shows how much passion there is for cycling in the UK and Yorkshire’s Grand Départ.”

Pre-registration is now closed and tickets will go on sale on Friday at 9am.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

69 comments

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Tripod16 [149 posts] 1 year ago
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It's typical. Any major sporting event that comes to these shores is an automatic excuse to gouge the British public of their hard-earned cash.
See:
Olympics
Rugby World Cup
Any football 'European' championship

We are seen as mugs who will pay.

No other country would allow their citizens to be fleeced as we routinely are.

Bastardos!!!

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mckechan [208 posts] 1 year ago
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Doesn't surprise me in the slightest. I won't be watching the tour by the roadside this year, but I would definitely go to France if I was.

Still, I look forward to watching the UK stages on TV  1

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Harryb2996 [13 posts] 1 year ago
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When i 'registered interest' i caught on there would likely be a cost. i expected about £10 - £15 maybe £20 at tops. but the 'cheap seats' being £45 is craaaazy!! Moreover It drives real cycling fans away and attracts tourists!

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pjay [246 posts] 1 year ago
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I thought the tickets would be free when I registered as well. It's pretty tedious watching the team presentations on TV, so I can't believe that anyone would pay for the 'privilege'. Hopefully they will have a rethink and give the tickets away in a lottery.

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mckechan [208 posts] 1 year ago
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For comparison ... and I might get hissed at for mentioning Football on here ... I have myself two tickets for my team in the Premier League against a the current champions at £40 each.

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Gordy748 [110 posts] 1 year ago
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I can't say I blame the organizers. 90% of a cycling team's revenue comes from sponsorship, whereas in football 10 - 20% of a Premier League team's money is sponsorship based. Cycling lives from hand to mouth, and even then only barely.

Rather than comparing to free events, 45 quid for the opening ceremony of le Tour, compared to how much for the Olympics opening ceremony, would be a better comparison.

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mattsccm [324 posts] 1 year ago
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And the opening of the Olympics was a pointless exercise having nothing what so ever to do with sport.
I would love to know why the organisers think that live entertainment is needed.
Oh yeah, the presentation is dead boring.

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dunnoh [197 posts] 1 year ago
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I was on the Koppenberg watching the Tour of Flanders. Big TV at the top, bar, friendly policemen, nice officials, no pettiness, great atmosphere, easy to access and all for free. I remember remarking to my brother if the Tour would be similar.

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Joeinpoole [439 posts] 1 year ago
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mckechan wrote:

For comparison ... and I might get hissed at for mentioning Football on here ... I have myself two tickets for my team in the Premier League against a the current champions at £40 each.

Also, if you want to watch golf at The Open this year, you'll be forking out £65-75 per ticket.

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racyrich [235 posts] 1 year ago
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The Tour is a commercial event. I'm fine with that. Given that, any income should be paid back to the various public bodies that have paid out £10m to subsidise this commercial event.

I object to private enterprise profiting from public subsidy (that means you, train operating companies).

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Simon_MacMichael [2443 posts] 1 year ago
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mckechan wrote:

I have myself two tickets for my team in the Premier League against a the current champions at £40 each.

£40 to watch your team play a mid-table side? Ouch  3

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Some Fella [890 posts] 1 year ago
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I am repeating myself here but worth pointing out the team presentation for the Giro in Belfast is free.
I'll be poised at my computer at 8.59 on Thursday morning to try and get a ticket!

If you can get cheap flights it may even work out cheaper to go to Belfast than get ripped off by the Yorkshire shysters.

Im sure all the MAMIL, full Team Sky kit wearing, hedge fund manager, weekend warriors who have been into cycling for 12 minutes will snap up the £80 tickets (and claim it back on expenses)

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Quince [382 posts] 1 year ago
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Do people want 'live entertainment' to accompany the beginning of the bicycle race? Or do they just want to see the beginning of a bicycle race?

It seems out of character to make the opening ceremony a private show in a box, when the race itself is such an celebration and showcase of the beauty of the countries it covers; of it's towns and countryside and character, spaces that belong to all of us.

It's one of the few sports that doesn't need a special venue. It uses entire countries as its venue, and any member of those countries can come and see it. It's the most open, expansive sport I can think of.

Which is why it's disappointing to see that it's not sharing its beginnings out in the open. Instead it's hiding away in a box, charging people to come and see it. If nothing else, it's killed a little of the romance... And there's no more romanticised race than Le Tour.

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Joeinpoole [439 posts] 1 year ago
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Quince wrote:

Do people want 'live entertainment' to accompany the beginning of the bicycle race? Or do they just want to see the beginning of a bicycle race?

It seems out of character to make the opening ceremony a private show in a box, when the race itself is such an celebration and showcase of the beauty of the countries it covers; of it's towns and countryside and character, spaces that belong to all of us.

It's one of the few sports that doesn't need a special venue. It uses entire countries as its venue, and any member of those countries can come and see it. It's the most open, expansive sport I can think of.

Which is why it's disappointing to see that it's not sharing its beginnings out in the open. Instead it's hiding away in a box, charging people to come and see it. If nothing else, it's killed a little of the romance... And there's no more romanticised race than Le Tour.

Fucks sake. What's the big deal? They're only charging for some nonsense 'opening ceremony' bollocks. You can still watch the actual 'event', when chaps with big thighs are riding expensive bicycles, completely for free by positioning yourself on any of the roads on which it passes. Isn't that good enough value for you?

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vbvb [525 posts] 1 year ago
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They must have Prince or Springsteen performing if £45 a seat is break-even. Not-for-profit, indeed. I bet the consultants are doing okay.

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Rupert [188 posts] 1 year ago
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I like reading the comments about this issue and everybody from both sides is sort of right, it all depends on where you are coming from with regards sport and how it should be run.

I think we will see the TOUR DE FRANCE organisation doing their best to big up the sport as much as possible year in year out as the sport of cycling becomes more and more main stream. But making things more of a spectacular cost money and spectators are going to have to pay, and probably not to cover cost but to make sure the numbers of spectators are kept to a manageable number.

There is no doubt that the start of the Tour in Leeds is going to be different, and set the bar higher for the TDF starts in future years. Not unlike the Olympics each start of the TDF event will be trying to out do the one the year before.

It is only natural that the money men get in on the act of a sport that is growing in popularity every day in every way.

Do I like it .......I am not sure yet, we will see just how good it goes in Leeds as it's more of an experiment for the organisers.
With all the moans of having to pay, it will probably be a success and add gravitas to the whole Tour.

But here's the point I would like to make for those that are yet to really understand the best way to watch the TDF.

I could wax lyrical about just jumping in your car with your bike on top and sleeping bag and tent in the boot, catching the ferry or euro tunnel and following the Tour on as many stages as possible as you get to enjoy the wonderful country that is France.

But when it boils down to it if you want to have the full injection when mainlining the addiction that is spectating at the Tour de France then these following words should be tattooed onto your cycling soul.

"Alpe d'Huez"

The Alpe is the mecca for all cycling fans which allegedly is used as a ski station in the Winter months it is THE PLACE to watch the Tour.

Sadly there is no Alpe d'Huez stage this year but next year ....... many will be booking their hotel soon  3

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andyb56 [11 posts] 1 year ago
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According to the Utrecht organisers, who I contacted, they said theirs is going to be free next year. So this is an attempt to subdue peoples frustration at the Yorkshire organisers!

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Tovarishch [58 posts] 1 year ago
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Sounds an eminently sensible decision to me. An outdoor team presentation would be a very expensive event, a lot more than indoors in a free venue, that would take money from the budget for the event itself. I would want the money that is in budget to be spent on important things like spectator control, signage, safety etc. By adding entertainment they justify charging and keep the operational budget intact.

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abudhabiChris [692 posts] 1 year ago
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Cycling competes against other sports for sponsorship and marketing - that's what keeps it alive at the pro level.

Taking what is essentially a pretty dull event and jazzing it up to get better TV and press coverage and attract a wider audience gives more exposure to the sponsors and teams.

If that means they have to charge to cover the cost then it is money well spent. Someone will buy the tickets.

Cycling's business model isn't exactly a candidate for being taught at Harvard. It needs to change.

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antonio [1103 posts] 1 year ago
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Remember Blackpool once charged for the illuminations big switch on, what a disaster that turned out to be. I hope the flask and butties brigade do likewise and boycott the rip off, I know I will.

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usedtobefaster [156 posts] 1 year ago
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I would hope that a proportion of the revenue raised from this event will be distributed amongst the teams.

As others have said above, the cycling "business" model is broken and if we want pro level cycling to continue then expect to have to start paying for tickets for what have previously been free experiences.

Now as to whether £45 - £85 is value for money for this type of event is another question, personally I doubt it.

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mikeprytherch [223 posts] 1 year ago
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Giro is free... well done Belfast

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mckechan [208 posts] 1 year ago
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Simon_MacMichael wrote:
mckechan wrote:

I have myself two tickets for my team in the Premier League against a the current champions at £40 each.

£40 to watch your team play a mid-table side? Ouch  3

He-he, well ever since my playground days, I've taken great satisfaction when my team beats Utd - I wonder what all the smug glory-hunters from yesteryear are thinking now?  21

Back to the cycling, I wasn't really saying that 40 is cheap, but just thought it would be interesting to compare the ticket cost of a "top" premier league game with the team presentation.

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farrell [1950 posts] 1 year ago
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Rupert wrote:

Not unlike the Olympics each start of the TDF event will be trying to out do the one the year before.

Last year was free and the teams turned up to a sunny, exotic island on yachts.

This year it is in Leeds Arena.

Tovarishch wrote:

An outdoor team presentation would be a very expensive event, a lot more than indoors in a free venue, that would take money from the budget for the event itself.

Yes, the venue may be free, but all they will get is an empty shell. They will have to hire in all the signage, sound, lights, staging, security and a myriad of other things. The costs are going to be fairly equal to staging the event outside.

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dp24 [201 posts] 1 year ago
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Claiming it is being run on a "not-for-profit basis" seems to be stretching the truth a bit.

Whilst the Grand Depart as a whole might run at a loss, it's laughable to suggest they won't be making a profit from this event. That will presumably subsidise some of the other losses. I'd have more respect if they were simply up front about it.

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chrisp1973 [55 posts] 1 year ago
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The cost is pretty outrageous, mind you, if nobody pays and nobody turns up it might change things in the future. If everyone moans then fronts up the cash it'll be the same for every event that ever comes to the UK - vote with your feet and your wallet, it's that simple.

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northstar [1108 posts] 1 year ago
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"uk" in trying to rip people off shocker.....people in paying said rip off prices...

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md6 [181 posts] 1 year ago
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This sounds like a lot of money for something people aren't that interested in. If i want to go and see some live entertainment, a band etc. then i buy tickets to go and se a band. If i want to go and see the team presentation for le tour, I don't really care about the 'live entertainment' alongside it and I wouldn't pay between £45 and £80 for it that's for sure. It does smack of trying to part people from their money for no other reason than because they can.
As for the claim this is a 'once in a lifetime event' um no it isn't. The tour has been to the UK before (2007) so unless 7 years is considered a once in a lifetime event then it isn't...unless of course they mean charging people to attend the presentations will be a once in a lifetime event.

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DrJDog [294 posts] 1 year ago
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Gordy748 wrote:

I can't say I blame the organizers. 90% of a cycling team's revenue comes from sponsorship, whereas in football 10 - 20% of a Premier League team's money is sponsorship based. Cycling lives from hand to mouth, and even then only barely.

Well, if all the money is going to the teams, that is a different matter. Can you cite your source on this?

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mickcee [64 posts] 1 year ago
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I would be more then happy to pay for a nice seat, a good view in a decent arena but just not at the prices that they are asking. Surely there will be screens and things on in Leeds so that fans can gather and still feel a part of it for free?

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