March 11, 2016 – Mon Dieu! How could it happen that a Chilean wine named Bicicleta was the official wine sponsor of the Tour de France? The winemakers of the Languedoc-Roussillon area wanted to know too and they were so angry they threatened to block a leg of the race between Carcassonne and Montpellier.
The Chilean wine in question, Bicicleta, features a bicycle on the label and has been a sponsor for the past two years and has been used to promote the Tour in several foreign countries, including Britain, Belgium and Holland in 2014 and 2015. But the winemakers of Languedoc-Roussillon were unaware of the deal. The president of a winemakers union felt “humiliated” and called on winemakers in other parts of France to join their protest and block the race at strategic points. Eight local parliamentarians also got involved complaining to the agriculture minister.
Alcohol beverages are not permitted as sponsors of sporting events in France. The Chilean wine was to be used in Switzerland, Andorra and Spain, countries where the race briefly enters.
A détente has been reached allowing the French producers to showcase their wines during the race while Bicicileta will remain the Tour’s sponsor in its promotional events outside of France. The Tour de France has been held 103 times and is one of France’s most prestigious events. The 2016 race will be held July 2-24.