Saturday 1 July 2023

As featured in Rouleur magazine: Groupe Amaury

As with most cycling magazines during the month July, Rouleur (issue 120) has dedicated its issue to the Tour de France.

I am very happy to have my interview article on the Amaury Group featured. Groupe Amaury (as the French company is officially known) is the family-run parent company of Amaury Sports Organisation, the organisers of Tour de France and many other large-scale cycle races and sports events. 

The interview was with the joint Chief Executive Officers, siblings Jean-Etienne and Aurore Amaury. I had the pleasure of going to the ASO offices on the edge of Paris to meet them, earlier this year.

My visit took me to a four-storey glassy building at Boulogne-Billancourt overlooking the river Seine close to the Ile Saint Germain, and I got there quite easily by taking the metro from the Eurostar terminal at Gare du Nord, out to Marcel Sembat metro station. This was where the two main entities of Groupe Amaury, ASO and Equipe Media are housed.

On my arrival I was met in the buzzing reception by Lara, the executive assistant to the Jean-Etienne, Aurore, and their mother, Marie-Odile, who is still president of the organisation. I interviewed each of the siblings in turn in a meeting room on the top floor of the building. Apart from when Jean-Etienne greeted me in English (a language he speaks fluently after having studied in California, and previously worked for Bloomberg in London) all interviews were conducted in French.

Both Jean-Etienne and Aurore were friendly and amenable, and I was particularly appreciative of Jean-Etienne giving an hour of his time for the interview. Bear in mind that the Amaury family do not normally speak to the media, and hardly ever give interviews. I was therefore honoured to have had the opportunity to speak to the siblings (and also Marie-Odile a couple of years ago for another cycling publication). 

Jean-Etienne heads up ASO, whose principle activity is sports events. So it was also good to talk to him not just about the Tour de France but also other events that I had taken part in - the Etape du Tour, Paris Marathon, and the Paris Triathlon.

Aurore is the president of Equipe Media, which includes the daily sports newspaper and magazine, the television channel, and the website. They also sponsor awards, notably the Ballon d'Or football event. She was quite excited about the build-up to the Paris Olympics, which will be a big event for the organisation. After the interviews I was then shown around the television studios. Interestingly, for all of the company's heritage in cycling, the highest viewing figures don't come from watching the pro peloton. Cycling comes third behind football and biathlon (cross country skiing and rifle shooting).

Through my interviews I got a good idea of the family and how they tick. They seemed very down-to-earth and don't have any particular airs and graces. They are proud to be part of an event that is at the heart of French culture - the Tour de France. Sport is a very important part of their lives, and their mission is to make it available on a professional as well as mass participation scale. So it is unlikely that they would be selling any of their brands any time soon, despite different approaches to buy the Tour de France at different moments in history. 

I am happy with the finished result of the article and the way it looks, especially with the photographs taken of them by James Startt.

After my morning spent at ASO/Equipe Media I then went on a walk around the pleasant park on the Ile Saint-Germain, and on to Issy les Moulineaux, passing through the undulating Jardin Delphine Boulay from where there were impressive views of the Eiffel Tower. 

Then it was a case of catching the Metro into central Paris where I enjoyed a late lunch before returning to London.  

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