Investor Hartweg buys OC Sport creation Haute Route
Le Télégramme Group, the French media company that owns international events firm OC Sport, has sold off its majority stake in Haute Route, the organiser of the eponymous amateur cycling series.
The new main shareholder is Michael Hartweg, an independent German investor based in Switzerland, who has made the acquisition through his family business MICA Ventures AG.
Haute Route runs challenging three- and seven-day endurance events, in often mountainous locations, around the world, and Hartweg was an existing investor.
As part of the deal, he is increasing his shares in the GranFondo National Series, a circuit of nine one-day cycling events held on scenic courses in North America, a target growth market for Haute Route.
Dominique Lesourd will remain the secondary shareholder of Haute Route, also with an increased stake.
Hartweg, who was the founding partner of Leonteq Securities, a leading Swiss fintech company, and previously held senior positions at banking giants Goldman Sachs and Commerzbank, already has a significant involvement in sport as the owner of the Biathlon ArenaLenzerheide, a Swiss venue that has hosted biathlon’s Junior World Championships and several rounds of skiing’s FIS Cross-Country World Cup.
OC Sport, which launched Haute Route nine years ago, is to “maintain a close working relationship” with the cycling events organiser but the latter will now be directed by Hartweg supported by a reinforced senior management team led by Julie Royer-Coutts as chief executive.
She took on the position at the start of the year, replacing Matt Holden who will continue to be involved with the series at board level.
With events in 2020 having been cancelled as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, Hartweg, an enthusiastic cyclist and triathlete who has competed in the Haute Route on numerous occasions, is looking forward to leading the series into a new era.
He said: “The Haute Route is a project I am really passionate about and I am looking forward to putting my energy into helping the event reach the next level of its potential.
"This year has been challenging for everyone around the globe, and event organisers have undoubtedly felt the strain. Together, the team will be tasked with continuing to future-proof the cycling series and position it as a leader in the fast-changing amateur cycling market. We have ambitious plans and I have full belief in the potential of this project to be an innovative global player.”
The calendar for 2021 is set to be announced this August.
Haute Route originated in the Alps in 2011 but through a franchise model has expanded from Europe to other markets, including Oman, Mexico, Brazil and China.
Hervé Favre, the chief executive of OC Sport, said: “The Haute Route has been a key part of our business for almost 10 years, and during that time we’ve given thousands of amateur cyclists the chance to experience what it’s like to ride like a pro at stunning locations all around the globe.
"We feel incredibly proud to have taken the Haute Route this far on its journey, and I am now excited to see the series get to another stage of development. I wish the team and Michael all the best for the future, and I expect I’ll see them on the roads again soon.”
OC Sport, which was acquired by Télégramme Group in 2014, retains properties such as sailing’s Route du Rhum, The Transat and Solitaire URGO Le Figaro and mass-participation events including the Geneva Marathon and Geneva Triathlon.