Changes for the Tour de France? French press reports today that Patrice Clerc has been removed from his post as director of the ASO, which, as we all know, organizes the Tour de France. Jean-Etienne Amaury will replace Clerc.
The news comes after speculation abounded in recent weeks over changes at the ASO, with some observers suggesting that Marie-Odile Amaury, who heads Éditions Amaury, was unhappy with the direction the ASO was heading, especially in relations with the UCI, with whom the ASO has fought a protracted war over cycling's future. Some observers worry that the replacement of Clerc may spell an end to the hard-line the ASO has taken against doping in the Tour de France. The ASO also organizes other events, including the Dakar Rally. In addition to the ASO, Éditions Amaury, which ranks as one of the largest companies in France, owns the sports daily, L'Équipe.
That the new head of the ASO intends to make nice with the UCI appeared confirmed by his public statement today. Said Amaury, "I take on these responsibilities to show to all the importance that the Groupe Amaury gives to its relations with the world of sport, and in particular with the cycling family, with whom, after a grave conflict, hopes for a harmonious peace are emerging." Yann Le Moenner, currently in charge of the department of marketing, media, and law at the ASO, will serve as assistant to Amaury.