Posted on June 25, 2011

Tour de France organisers yesterday announced an agreement with Qatar Airways to transport the race peloton to Paris for the final stage of this year's race. Race organisers ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) announced the agreement yesterday, only days after the Qatari company was voted the world's number one airline.

It means that this year the peloton, which in recent years has travelled to the outskirts of Paris on the morning of the final stage by the TGV high-speed train, will travel from Grenoble to Orly airport on an Airbus A330. Upon arrival, the field will then travel to Creteil for the start of the 21st and final stage of the July 2-24 race, which ends on the Champs Elysees.

Qatar Airways chief executive officer Akbar al-Baker said: "This is an opportunity for us to demonstrate our passion for sport. "There couldn't be a better time to announce this news. Earlier this week Qatar Airways was voted the world's top airline company." Qatar Airways boasts a fleet of 98 airplanes and is set to take that past the 120 mark by 2013, according to al-Baker. The announcement comes months after Qatar's successful acquisition of the World Cup in 2022.

In recent weeks, forays have also been made into the French sports business market, with Qatari companies taking a controlling stake in top flight football side Paris Saint Germain and buying part of the television rights for French first division matches. ASO, meanwhile, has had links with Qatar for a decade, in the shape of the Tour of Qatar cycling event - a one-week race held in February.


source: Gulf Times