The Swiss marketing firm IMG Switzerland has revealed some of its early plans for the Tour de Romandie after acquiring the rights to organise the prestigious cycling race for the next ten years.
In a press conference at the company's headquarters in canton Neuchatel, IMG Switzerland's head Marc Biver set out an increased budget of SFr 2 million for the annual race through the French-speaking part of the country.
"That is a realistic budget," Biver insisted, "when one compares it to that of the Tour de Suisse which is currently at five and a half million francs."
To help meet this budget, Biver said IMG would be seeking a main sponsor and three co-sponsors. He added that these sponsors would not be the same as those currently backing the Tour de Suisse, which is also organised by IMG.
"I think it is important that the two Tours maintain their individual identities," explained Biver, although he admitted that his company would be bundling the two races together when negotiating television rights with foreign broadcasters.
IMG said it planned to keep on all the heads of departments currently engaged in organising the Tour de Romandie and confirmed that Yves Mittaz and Tony Rominger would be staying on as the Tour's directors of operations and sporting matters respectively.
IMG was awarded the rights to the Tour de Romandie by the International Cycling Union (UCI) on Tuesday, after a bitter competition between IMG and the event's former organiser, Daniel Perroud.
On Wednesday Biver confirmed that he had contacted Perroud in early May to discuss a possible collaboration but denied Perroud's claims that he had been prematurely informed of his bid's success by the UCI.
"I didn't call Perroud because of any assurances I'd received," Biver insisted. "I called him because I had the feeling that our dossier would be the one chosen. Perroud asked for 24 hours to consider my offer before declining it."
The acquisition of the Tour de Romandie rights marks a further broadening of IMG's already sizeable presence in the sporting arena. As well as its involvement in cycling, the company is responsible for the world alpine skiing championships, the Crans-Montana European Masters golf tournament and the Swiss ice hockey league.
swissinfo with agencies
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