The Tour de France is becoming increasingly popular around the world...and is enjoying a sponsorship windfall as a result

 
Joe Hall
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Chris Froome leads the Tour by three minutes and 10 seconds (Source: Getty)

Although newspaper headlines in France and Britain have once again focused on cycling's supposed dark side, global interest in the Tour de France is rising according to sports marketing research firm Repucom.

Read more: Froome doubts Team Sky data release will stop doping claims

Significantly more people in markets outside of Europe such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the US said they were "interested" or "very interested" in the cycling event.

A spike in interest was also monitored on the continent in countries such as Italy and the Netherlands.

In the UAE, 20 per cent of the respondents said they were interested in cycling's prestige event - a rise of 14 percentage points since 2012.

According to Mike Wragg, executive vice president of market research at Repucom, the growth of appeal in new markets could offer a boon in sponsorship revenues for the event:

The rise in fan interest internationally, especially in markets such as the UAE, provides some crucial clues as to potential future investors into the Tour and the sport more generally. Investment in sport in the UAE and across the region has boomed in the last five years and we're now seeing this reflected in the growth of fan bases. The knock on effect, as we have seen with European football for example, is that events like the Tour de France could now become more appealing to sponsors from Middle East markets.

...Following the doping scandals that rocked cycling over the last 10 years, we're now seeing that the sport is turning a corner both in terms of fan interest and in terms of sponsorship appeal.

Although this year's Tour has brought with it renewed cynicism from some quarters, cycling generally has a cleaned-up image compared to the tailend of the Lance Armstrong era, and that has already resulted in a rise in sponsorships.

This year marks the first time five brands (Carrefour, Krys, Vittel, Skoda and LCL) have signed up to the highest sponsorship tier, while international sponsors such as South African IT firm Dimension Data have also jumped on board.

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