"It's a dated sports format." The words about the Tour de France from Valérie Faucheux, mobility assistant and co-chair of the group of elected environmentalists from Rennes, have ignited the powder. For the start of the 2021 Grande Boucle, the Breton capital refused to replace Copenhagen at short notice, forfeit due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

At first glance, the decision of the Rennes municipal team, made up of socialists and ecologists, may appear incomprehensible: cycling and ecology go hand in hand, the development of soft mobility being a priority for green elected officials. But the little queen is not the Big Loop.

"There is also no correlation between the reception of the Tour and the development of daily cycling trips, which we are the first to defend", explain the elected ecologists of the Rennes metropolis in a press release.

Valérie Faucheux thus denounces the "carbon footprint" of the Tour de France due to the caravans of cars and trucks, "its catastrophic waste management" and "its sexist image of women", referring to the hostesses on the podiums of arrival.

Opposition and former runners step up

Words that were hastened to denounce elected opposition officials but also former runners, denouncing a missed economic opportunity and accusing environmentalists of a form of class contempt.

"It is a political error", criticizes Loick Le Brun, elected opposition centrist Rennes, in Ouest-France. "This departure would have been economically a very good thing for the Rennes economy, the one which creates jobs, the one which supports families, the one which pays taxes so that public jobs are financed."

"[Valérie Faucheux] is an environmentalist? She will have to look at what she puts at her feet and where it comes from", annoyed in a press conference, Bernard Hinault, five-time and last French winner of the event . "She pollutes maybe more than anybody else on a bicycle. It makes me angry. You can't say that cycling is backward. It's ridiculous. I think it should be. she thinks before opening her mouth, "says the Badger, who does not mince his words.

I am ashamed for my department and my city of birth #Rennes. Valérie Faucheux @EELV grow and open your eyes just like @nathalieappere. I'm ashamed, really ashamed but ultimately not that surprised by your recurring stupidity @LeTour https://t.co/RIeNGd0iWc

- Stéphane Heulot (@stephane_heulot) August 10, 2020

“A Tour de France cannot be refused,” explains Alain Cadec, President Les Républicains of the Côtes-d'Armor department, in Ouest-France. "It's the biggest free event in the world!"

A costly expense for cities

Free, the Tour de France? Not for everyone and certainly not for the cities that host it. This is what the Rennes municipal team underlined: "What sealed the desire to host a stage rather than the Grand Départ, and not the refusal to host the Tour as it has been said. erroneously, remains the budgetary and financial aspect, "explains in a publication on his Facebook page the first deputy PS, Marc Hervé, while recalling his" passion "for an event which" nourished [his] youth ".

"While it is true that these major events, which Rennes has not missed in recent years (Tour de France 2015, semi-finals of the Rugby Top 14, Women's World Cup ...), have a certain economic impact, they also have a significant financial cost for communities ", reminds the elected Socialist. "The 700,000 euros paid directly by the host city to the organizing company ASO, to which are added several hundreds of thousands of euros in direct services for the Grand Départ, would have been added to the estimated budget for all the other planned events. in 2021. "

For several days now, the Tour de France has been the subject of passionate debates about the organization of its Grand Départ for ...

Posted by Marc Herve on Thursday August 13, 2020

If the city of Rennes speaks of a cost of 700,000 euros to host the Grand Départ in 2021, the city of Brussels had to spend more than 4.5 million euros in 2019. To host a stage, the The bill is a little less salty: around 80,000 euros for a departure and 120,000 euros for an arrival, necessarily broadcast live, so more interesting.

In addition to these sums paid directly to ASO, there are costs claimed by the Tour specifications: barriers, water and electricity supply for the caravan and the departure / arrival village, etc. This can double the bill.

"The 700,000 euros that must be spent to host this event is the equivalent of one year of extending the budget of the municipal social action center (CCAS), and the economic benefits have never been proven. ", defends Valérie Fauchaux.

A study by the Protourisme firm in 2018 showed that a step brought in 2 euros to shops, hotels and restaurants in a stopover town per euro spent by the municipality.

Rennes far from being the only critical voice

Other elected officials even wonder about the relevance of the Tour de France model. In Grenoble, the EELV mayor, Éric Piolle, refused the passage of the Tour in his city in 2019, anniversary date of the yellow jersey, born in the city of Isère. The Grande Boucle will nevertheless make its return there in 2020 during the 17th stage and Grenoble will share the bill with its agglomeration.

"We have a history with cycling, all forms of cycling including the Tour de France", concedes the councilor on France Bleu. "But the Tour must evolve […]. We can no longer host events that contradict the eco-responsible values ​​we are trying to put in place."

And the Greens are not the only ones to be wary of the Tour de France In 2018, Garches (LR) or Marnes-la-Coquette (DVD), in Hauts-de-Seine, had informed the organizers of the Tour that the passage cyclists would be more inconvenient than beneficial for their city. And Nice (LR), city of the Grand Départ this year, has long refused to welcome it, arguing that it is incompatible with the tourist season.

The Tour, far from being an environmental green jersey

According to Ouest-France, the Tour is far from being an example in terms of ecology: between 10 and 12 million spectators travel in motorhomes or cars on the side of the roads, the car park of the event is more than 2,000 vehicles (170 for the advertising caravan alone), and above all 15 million goodies distributed (in 2019), most often in plastic. An environmental impact denounced last year in a forum by deputies of all stripes and NGOs.

ASO nevertheless ensures progress on the subject: distribution of garbage bags, recycling, establishment of a green zone where runners are invited to specifically dispose of their waste ...

“For five years now, we have started, with our partners, a policy of reducing plastic in the gifts that brands offer to the public,” explains Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour. "We have been going for years, even if like everyone else we could move faster. This year, for the first time, we will have 29 hybrid cars. There will be 100% electric cars in the trailer. I will personally use one. three-way electric car, ”he stressed.

The Tour de France now wants to show a green paw, but beyond the ecological impact and the cost, another problem appears for environmentalists: that of "sport-business" which takes precedence during these huge sporting gatherings .

"There is always a part of privatization of public space for major sporting events. The Tour de France belongs to a private company which has shareholders who expect dividends," explains Gérard Onesta, leader of environmentalists in the region. Occitanie, on franceinfo "Couldn't we imagine keeping the popular jubilation side without having the excesses?"

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