Martin hails Düsseldorf Tour de France bid

Hosting Grand Depart would signal a turning point for German cycling

Tony Martin has hailed the bid by Düsseldorf for the Grand Depart of the 2017 Tour de France as a sign that German cycling has turned a corner.

"It is a nice political signal that our work to bring more credibility to cycling has paid off," Martin said according to the DPA.

Düsseldorf's bid was allowed after the measure passed the city council by a slim margin this week, and since a competing bid by London was withdrawn in September, the German city stands a good chance of being selected to host the Tour.

That the country stands a chance of hosting the Tour's depart for the fourth time in history is nothing short of miraculous. When doping scandals involving the country's top star Jan Ullrich and its main team T-Mobile emerged in 2006 and 2007, the sport suffered a massive blow to its reputation. Germany went so far as to stop broadcasting the Tour de France on television after 2011.

But the emergence of Martin, together with fellow Germans John Degenkolb and Marcel Kittel, have pulled the reputation out of the gutter. The trio joined the National Anti-Doping Agency's "give everything – take nothing" campaign to help repair the sport's reputation in that country.

Television coverage of the Tour de France resumed this year, and fans have been enthusiastic about their new stars. However, German Cycling Association president Rudolf Scharping remains realistic. He said the bid by Düsseldorf is "very good news for the city and cycling in Germany", but added that the work is not yet done. "Cycling still has a lot more to do to convince skeptics of its reputation," Scharping said.

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