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The Tour de France: A Success Story in Spite of Competitive Imbalance and Doping

In: The Economics of Professional Road Cycling


  • Wladimir Andreff

    (University Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne)


The Tour de France is one of the world’s largest sports events. The three-week race attracts 10–15 million spectators along the roads each year, and individual stages are watched by over 20 million TV viewers worldwide. Although cycling races are usually not lucrative, the Tour de France organizer’s balance sheet reveals that the Tour has always been profitable in the past two decades. In this chapter, we first explain how the attractiveness and the economic success of the Tour de France follow from the fact that it is a high-quality product. This is the result from its accurate design, its management, its economic model, and its finance structure, both in comparison with other mega-sporting events and with reference to tournament theory. Most sports economists are used to turn to a contest’s outcome uncertainty as another explanatory variable for success. We therefore next assess outcome uncertainty in the Tour de France, and we develop a new metrics for evaluating the event’s competitive balance. Because the Tour de France cannot ignore doping as a potential threat to fan attendance and TV viewing, we close the chapter with a discussion on the issue of doping and we propose a new procedure to deal with this problem.

Suggested Citation

  • Wladimir Andreff, 2016. "The Tour de France: A Success Story in Spite of Competitive Imbalance and Doping," Sports Economics, Management, and Policy, in: Daam Van Reeth & Daniel Joseph Larson (ed.), The Economics of Professional Road Cycling, edition 1, chapter 0, pages 233-255, Springer.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:semchp:978-3-319-22312-4_11
    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-22312-4_11

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    Cited by:

    1. Alexander Genoe & Ronald Rousseau & Sandra Rousseau, 2021. "Applying Google Trends’ Search Popularity Indicator to Professional Cycling," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 22(4), pages 459-485, May.
    2. J. J. Prinsloo & T. G. Pelser & P. S. Radikonyana, 2020. "Marketing evolution of performance enhancing drugs in professional cycling," Proceedings of International Academic Conferences 10312491, International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences.


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