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June 19/09 13:59 pm - Serge Arsenault Interview - ProTour Comes to Canada for 2010


Posted by Editor on 06/19/09
 

Serge Arsenault, the founder of Serdy Video in Montreal and organizer of the men's road World Cup in Montreal in early 1990's spoke with us this morning after the stunning announcement that his organization has been approved to put on two one-day ProTour events in Canada next year. The events will be in Montreal on September 10th and Quebec City on September 12th.

Canadian Cyclist: It was unexpected news to receive - that the ProTour is coming to Canada next year!

Serge Arsenault: We started nearly a year ago, working on this. I still have a passion for cycling, and now I have more free time with [other] family taking care of our business. I have seen that the troubles between the ASO [Tour de France organizer] and UCI have calmed, and it is clear that the UCI wants to expand, so I am thinking that now it is time to try what we tried 20 years ago; maybe that was too early. So, we flew to Geneva to talk with them [UCI], and that was it - I asked for one ProTour, and after discussion it was decided that two would be better.

CC: The cities you chose - Montreal is obvious, and Quebec would also make for a great race.

SA: We need cities with the correct topography. Montreal has Mont Royal and Quebec also has a wonderful geography. I have Boston in mind for the future, and I think it is realistic to consider a North American eastern ProTour circuit over two weeks for the future.

For Montreal, Mont Royal is what I would call passage oblige; it is a tough course and you don't win by luck. For Quebec I think it will be 90% of the usual course [as used by Tour de Beauce and Nationals].

CC: The UCI announced that the dates have been reserved, and the licencing now has to taken care of - does that mean the races are pretty much guaranteed to take place?

SA: We did our presentation, and the licencing is more a formality than anything else. We were interested in the Labour Day weekend, the first one in September, but for the first year it will be later because the Mountain Bike World Championships are in Quebec for the first weekend. After that, our normal date will be on the Labour Day weekend. For 2011, Montreal will be the Sunday race and Quebec the Friday one. We want to make it a festival of cycling.

It is an excellent time - September is good for the calendar, before the World Championships, and the racers will be available. The time [of day] will be prime time for Europe. Being the owners of a television network facilitates everything. We have the hotels reserved, a lot is already going on.

The television broadcast will be in HD [high definition], and we will use the cameramen and motorcycle drivers from the Tour de France.

CC: Now what about getting the riders and teams to come over to North America? When we spoke - years ago - after you stopped running the World Cup, you said that this was one of the biggest problems, and you needed multiple events in a short period to be able to attract the riders. Is this still the case?

SA: Three generations of riders have passed since then. The younger ones now travel a lot more than the riders used to, and I think they understand that if they want a strong sport then they have to travel around the world. I was talking with Bernard Hinault, and he said 'to be a top sport, the riders have to go all over the world'. Cycling is coming from behind as an international sport, and it has to be like tennis and other sports.

CC: A final question - this would seem to be a natural build up for a world championships bid?

SA: You are not far off...

 


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