Düsseldorf will submit an official application to host the start of the 2017 Tour de France after a vote on the matter was won by a slim margin. According to reports in the German media, the Düsseldorf city council convened for a vote late on Thursday after several hours of debate.
"This is an event with worldwide appeal. We got great response to our application from the Tour organisers and all cycling associations, we are probably in a nearly unrivalled situation,” said Burkhard Hintzsche, head of the city’s sports department, according to wz-newsline.de.
It was believed that London were about to be awarded the 2017 Grand Départ at the end of September, which would have been the second visit to the UK capital, but Transport For London – who had submitted the proposal – pulled out at the last minute. Düsseldorf immediately came to the fore as a viable alternative and they indicated their interest early last month. If they are awarded the start, it will be the fourth time Germany has hosted the Tour de France, after Cologne in 1965, Frankfurt in 1980, and Berlin in 1987.
Hosting the Grand Départ would cost around 11 million euros according to the reports, part of which would be a fee paid to ASO and the remainder would be related to infrastructure. In contrast, Düsseldorf projects that the event, plus the build-up, could bring in as much as 57 million euros, an amount the council claims is a conservative estimate.
Germany has had a strained relationship with the Tour de France and cycling in recent years. Following the doping scandals of the early 2000s, which engulfed German heroes Jan Ulrich and Erik Zabel, German television stopped showing the race. German cycling has been on the rise recently, though, with Marcel Kittel, Tony Martin, and John Degenkolb putting in back into the limelight.
Relationships thawed this year when national broadcaster ARD began showing the Tour de France on television again and a Grand Départ in the country would be a major step forward.
Next year's Tour de France is set to begin in the north of France at Mont-Saint-Michel.