Cyprus offers great advantages in sports tourism

One of the biggest sporting events of 2023 in Cyprus is the L'Étape Cyprus by Tour de France, which this year will take place on November 12, 2023 with the start and finish set at Aphrodite Hills in Paphos. One of the race organisers, Nikoletta Ioannou, spoke to us about the much anticipated race, its connection with the famous Tour de France, as well as its contribution to the tourism product of Cyprus.

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On November 12, 2023, in mountainous Paphos and Limassol, L'Étape Cyprus by Tour de France will be hosted for the second time. Tell us about this big event.

Following the successful 2022 event, where more than 350 cyclists from Cyprus and abroad participated in the one-day race, the new date has been set for next November. The L'Étape series, which is managed by ASO, which is also the organiser of the Tour de France, is the largest Sportive event in the world, that is, for amateur and semi-professional athletes. Our country is one of the 29 stops of the series around the globe, with a total of 22 countries hosting such a race. Participants have the opportunity to feel like cyclists competing in the famous Tour de France, the greatest cycling race in the world. That's because all L'Étape by Tour de France races are held to the strict standards of the Tour de France, with a strong emphasis on all levels, including safety, escort cars, and of course the legendary yellow jersey. The Cypriot race of the L'Etape series is organised by Mokapot Productions, with the start and finish in Aphrodite Hills in the Paphos district. L'Étape Cyprus by Tour de France includes two races, "The Race", 136 km long with a 3,000m ascend, and "The Ride", 62 km long with a 1,300m ascend. The athletes will head towards Mount Olympus, via Kouklia and Omodos, before returning to sea level for the finish.

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But the connection with the Tour de France doesn't just end with the branding, as there is the possibility for the winners to participate in the one-day race L'Étape du Tour that takes place during the famous Tour de France, right?

That's right. The top three men and women of each L'Étape, earn the right to directly participate in the one-day L'Étape du Tour race, held each year during the Tour de France and on an official stage of the race before the professional cyclists, during a rest day. For 2023, the 31st L'Étape du Tour will be held on July 9, on the same route as stage 14 of the Tour de France, in a 152km stage with 4,100m of ascend, between the villages of Annemasse and Morzine, near the Swiss border. In addition to the three winners of L'Étape Cyprus by Tour de France, participation in L'Étape du Tour can be claimed by all participants of the L'Etape Cyprus - "The Race" as part of the "L'Etape Reward Program", which ensures exclusive priority registration before the official start of registration each October.

How important is the contribution of L'Étape Cyprus by Tour de France to the tourism industry of Cyprus?

Sports tourism is a rapidly growing industry internationally and Cyprus offers significant advantages, compared to other markets, such as for example good weather conditions almost all year round, short distances, quick change from sea to mountain, expertise in organising major sporting events and easy access from different parts of the world. These are some of the reasons why the French organisers of the L’Étape by Tour de France series have chosen Cyprus to be one of the 29 stops around the globe. At this year's L’Étape Cyprus by Tour de France we expect over 500 arrivals from abroad. Together with the entries of Cypriot athletes, we estimate that the hotels in Paphos and Limassol regions will benefit from around 2,100 overnight stays during the race period. This is very important, as the race will take place in a period outside the peak tourist season. This attractiveness of the race has helped us to attract major partners and sponsors so far.

So far, who is supporting this year's event?

We are happy to have the deputy Ministry of Tourism by our side again this year, who recognize the importance of supporting major sporting events. With the Deputy Minister Mr. Kostas Koumis and the officials of the deputy Ministry, we have developed an excellent cooperation. Also very important is the support offered by the local communities of the municipalities and villages where the race passes through. But the support from private institutions and companies is also very substantial. With us so far are Cyta, Cyprus Airways, Natural Mineral Water Agios Nikolaos of KEO. And recently the American University of Beirut - Mediterraneo in Paphos has joined our sponsorship family. They aim to have a strong presence in the local and national society through the support of such events, and they give us great strength and motivation.

Race ambassador of this year's event is Cyprus champion Andreas Miltiades. How did this collaboration come about?

We are proud to have with us as race ambassador of this year's event Andreas Miltiades, who in 2022 won L'Étape Cyprus by Tour de France, finishing ahead of brothers Illnur and Aidar Zakarin. The 26-year-old, 9-time Cyprus cycling champion, with years of experience in international races on all continents, will be looking to win the race for the second time. His presence in this year's race will attract even more participants, from abroad, but also from Cyprus.

Have registrations for L'Étape Cyprus by Tour de France 2023 started?

Registrations have already started, and we are pleased with the response so far. Registration costs start from €79, and accommodation packages are also offered. We invite those interested to visit cyprus.letapebytourdefrance.com or email info@letapecyprus.com for more information.

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