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  • Gary Roethenbaugh

Major acquisition: IRONMAN snaps up Lagardère Sports endurance division

IRONMAN has signed an agreement to acquire Lagardère Sports’ endurance division, which includes races in three continents and eight countries. As part of the deal, IRONMAN will therefore own and/or operate an additional five International Triathlon Union (ITU) events, four marathons, six cycling races, of which five are under the Velothon cycling event brand, as well as a number of other participation events.

These events are expected to serve an estimated 140,000 participants in 2016.

The acquisition of Lagardère Sports’ endurance division represents a major shift in the world of endurance sport events and opens up significant expansion opportunities for IRONMAN, under its new owners Wanda Group and its recent integration into the entity Wanda Sports.

While the terms of the deal and amount paid have not been disclosed, it's clear that a significant transaction has taken place given the reach of the Lagardère Sports’ portfolio.

The long-standing partnership between Lagardère and ITU on the World Triathlon Series, which currently runs until 2020, gives IRONMAN and Wanda Sports access to an international television audience, ahead of the World Triathlon Series elite athletes gearing up for a showdown at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Coupled with a number of marathon events and an expanding cycling portfolio, notably under the Velothon cycling series, the deal sets up IRONMAN-Wanda as the largest global provider of endurance sports events.

“Lagardère Sports has built innovative and world-class events which, when added to our global event portfolio, further builds our company and strengthens the entire endurance business under the roof of Wanda Sports Holding,” said Andrew Messick, Chief Executive Officer of IRONMAN.

“These iconic events, and the teams that have created and managed them, will further strengthen our position in triathlon, expand our portfolio in running, and establish ourselves in cycling.”

Christian Toetzke, currently CEO of Lagardère Sports endurance division, will join IRONMAN's global executive team as Chief Development Officer and Global Head of Cycling. “With the acquisition, IRONMAN is extending its portfolio in world class running and cycling. I look forward to being a part of this growth in my new role,” added Toetzke.

IRONMAN and the ITU have been long-term partners, working together on unified and global standard rules for triathlon, as well as several athlete development initiatives. With this acquisition, IRONMAN adds to its portfolio and will now own and operate the ITU World Triathlon Hamburg, ITU World Triathlon Leeds, ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi, ITU World Triathlon Stockholm and ITU World Triathlon Cape Town.

With IRONMAN’s current ownership of the ITU World Triathlon Gold Coast, it now owns and operates six of the nine events in the ITU World Triathlon Series.

“Lagardère Sports has been a long-standing and fantastic partner to the ITU,” said Marisol Casado, ITU President and IOC Member. “It is with their commitment to the sport of triathlon that we raised the bar and brought triathlon to the masses over the last eight years. I fully believe the transition of these events to IRONMAN will serve to further strengthen our sport on a global level.”

She continued, “Congratulations to both Lagardère Sports and IRONMAN. ITU looks forward to continuing to work together to keep triathlon a major player in the world of sports."

Listed below are the races to be added to the IRONMAN portfolio:

ITU • ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi • ITU World Triathlon Cape Town • ITU World Triathlon Hamburg • ITU World Triathlon Leeds • ITU World Triathlon Stockholm

Cycling • Hamburg Cyclassics • Velothon Berlin • Velothon Wales • Velothon Copenhagen • Velothon Stockholm • Velothon Stuttgart

Running • Hamburg Marathon • Hawkes Bay International Marathon • Marathon de Bordeaux • Queenstown Marathon • Music Run Hamburg • Music Runs in Germany, UK, France, Sweden & South Africa

Multisport, Festival, Other • Duathlon Cape Town • Duathlon Sandton • The Motatapu • The Pioneer

A release from IRONMAN adds that all previously announced race information including race date will remain the same.

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