A budget shortfall has put Germany’s only professional stage race, the Bayern Rundfahrt, at risk of cancellation in 2016. The organisers have a race against time with a self-imposed deadline of December 20 to find the €300,000 needed or they may be forced to pull the plug for next year. The 2.HC ranked race is due to take place over four days at the end of next May.
“We have a responsibility towards our partners, particularly the host cities, as well as the teams, who need certainty with regards to their racing calendar in the coming year. Therefore we need to decide by the end of the year whether the Bayern Rundfahrt can proceed or not,” Race Director Ewald Strohmeier said in a statement issued by the organisers. “If we can secure new funding by 20th December, we have agreed with the host cities that the Rundfahrt will proceed as planned.”
While cycling is once again on the rise in Germany, following the success of riders such as John Degenkolb, Tony Martin and Marcel Kittel, there is still a dearth of top-level racing. There are just 17 UCI-ranked races in Germany, with many of those for under 23 riders, and the one-day Cyclassics Hamburg is the only in the WorldTour. Full coverage of the Tour de France only returned to German television this season. Organisers are fighting to save the event and are confident that should they fail to come through for 2016 that it won’t spell the end for the race.
“We will continue the talks we have been conducting over the past few months, so that the Bayern Rundfahrt can continue from 2017 onwards as a successful and appealing race. In 2015, we put on a fantastic event, which showed that cycling is extremely well received by the German public and engages large numbers of spectators. We will keep working to ensure that top-level sports have a future in Germany, and that Germany can continue to produce successful professional cyclists.”
The 2016 edition of the Bayern Rundfahrt will be the 37th running of the race, which began in 1989. Alex Dowsett (Movistar) won the overall classification in 2015, beating Katusha’s Tiago Machado, while Degenkolb took two stage wins for the home nation. German’s Jens Voigt and Michael Rich hold the record for number of titles with three apiece; however Linus Gerdemann’s victory in 2009 was the last by a home rider.