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French MPs call for Tour de France to join Unesco list

media French rider Julian Alaphilippe celebrates on the podium, wearing the yellow jersey on 13 July 2019. Reuters/Christian Hartmann

A group of French MPs has said the Tour de France should be added to Unesco's intangible cultural heritage list. It comes as home enthusiasm for the world's greatest cycle race is at a high, with Julian Alaphilippe reclaiming the leader's yellow jersey for Sunday's national holiday, Bastille Day. 

France has 17 cultural practices or traditions on the Unesco World Heritage List, including equestrian and gastronomic meals. Only China, with 40 pieces of intangible heritage, Japan, South Korea and Spain are better represented.

"The Tour de France is more than a national symbol – it is legendary across the world," Philippe Folliot, an MP from the ruling LaREM party wrote on the Journal du Dimanche website in letter signed by 53 politicians.

"Like what we did for the gastronomic meal, we must protect Le Tour and carry it like a banner of our culture, our heritage, our living together – in short, everything that we are."

The MPs point out that the Tour de France, one of the world's most popular sporting events, is "the only show of its kind in the world that is both popular and free."

The peloton, with Deceuninck-Quick Step rider Julian Alaphilippe of France wearing the yellow jersey on 14 July 2019. Reuters/Christian Hartmann

"On the roadsides, the excited crowds of ordinary people come in droves. Everyone wears team jerseys and accessories and expresses their joy and happiness as they participate in this moment of fraternity and sport."

The lawmakers also point out that the annual race gives a tour of French scenery and history.

"As lovers of sport, geography, architecture, history, we are all in front of our televisions, always enjoying the images that showcase our country from north to south and east to west," they wrote.

Read more:

(with wires)

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