People have been talking about the ‘cycling explosion’ and ‘the new golf’ for some years now, and it seems that sportive/gran fondo organizers are starting to catch on too, now. A mass re-branding / expansion seems to be taking place all at once in the sportive world. Here are just a few examples of many that have shown up on my timeline or in my inbox recently.
Etape du Tour. Until very recently the only Etape du Tour you could do was in France, i.e. an actual ‘etape’ of the Tour de France. Well, in one of the most curious leaps of branding I’ve noticed, ASO now has ‘Etapes’ in Australia (not even in SA, where the Tour Down Under takes place), Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and the UK.
La Marmotte. This one is spanking new this year, too, with a yet-unknown Marmotte Pyrenees.
La Marmotte has been connect to the Grand Trophée series of sportives for years now. It still is, but now lives next door because it is its own ‘series’ now.
But now I find that Grand Trophée has become part of something called Cycling Classics France – totally new this year. Cycling Classics France includes the two series above, plus the rebel one-day event, the Tour du Mont Blanc.
And just when you thought you almost understood what was happening, Cycling Classics France is also a member of something else unknown before a few weeks ago – We are Cycling.
If you click on Italy you get nothing yet; France brings you to the page above; and Belgium takes you to the site below. Included in Cycling Classics are lots of local Belgian sportives I’ve never heard of, Spring Classics events run by ASO (Tour de France) and the Grand Trophée. Oh, and the UCI World Cycling Tour (Masters World Championships).
Is this expansion too much, too soon? Who knows? Etape tried to do two ‘Acts’ a few years back and that failed pretty miserably, but I’m guessing if they attempted it this year they sell both out. The 15,000 places for the Megeve-Morzine Etape next year have all been gobbled up as of yesterday; and the sportive version of the Tour of Flanders is now sold out – 16,000 spots (I know this because I missed out). I’m sure the list could go on and on.
Will it last? Again, who can tell? But I’m planning on enjoying the ride while it does.