Team NetApp hopes to ride the Tour de France in the future but it looks doubtful that the race will appear on German television. The two main public broadcasters, ARD and ZDF announced this week that they will not carry the race.
“That is sad and regrettable,” said NetApp team manager Ralph Denk, to the dpa news agency. The team, which this year moved up to the Professional Continental ranks, is hoping to reach ProTeam status in 2012.
“Of course we would have liked to have ARD and ZDF with us, when we start the Tour for the first time. But fortunately our sponsor is globally oriented and we still have Eurosport, which will carry the race,” Denk said.
The German broadcasters cited declining viewer numbers as a reason for their decision, due in part to doping in cycling.
“That punishes cycling as a pioneer in the fight against doping. I would wish that all other sports would be so consistent,” Denk said.
Hans-Michael Holczer, former team manager of Team Gerolsteiner, agreed. “Their worries about viewer numbers is not a real argument.”
Gerry van Gerwen, manager of Team Milram, which ended in 2010, called the move a “tactical manoeuvre”. He said, “I can't imagine that ARD and ZDF would simply send more than a million viewers, or shall I call them customers, to Eurosport.”