Zepuntke on a mission to start 2017 Tour de France in Düsseldorf

Ruben Zepunkte (Cannondale)

Ruben Zepunkte (Cannondale) (Image credit: Jean-François Quénet)

Prior to embarking to Australia where he'll be joined as a visitor at the Santos Tour Down Under by Yorkshire's cycling honcho Sir Gary Verity, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme attended the launch of the 2017 Grand Départ in Düsseldorf, Germany. Like on every visit to a city, he met the mayor Klaudia Zepuntke (SPD, the social democrat party). In Adelaide, he might bump into her son Ruben who's busy racing and building his pro career with Cannondale.

"I've had 0% influence on the choice of the route for the opening time trial of the Tour de France next year," Ruben Zepuntke told Cyclingnews before the start of the People's Choice Classic in Adelaide where he was often seen at the front of the bunch. "But it's nice to know that the world's biggest race will use my training roads. For German cycling, it's really a big step forward. It's the start of a good relationship with cycling in Germany again."

Thibaut Pinot's father Régis is the mayor of Mélisey, a little town near the Planche des Belles Filles in the east of France but the cycling community hasn't seen many sons of high profile politicians such as the mayor of Germany's seventh biggest city racing as a pro.

Zepuntke, 23, is in his second year with Cannondale after having started with Rabobank continental and won a stage at the 2014 Tour of Alberta with Axel Merckx' team.

"My debut has been really good in the US and racing the Tour of Flanders has been an excellent learning experience," he said. "I became much stronger and I'm very excited ahead of the new season. I'm an all rounder and one of my goals is to lose weight to become better in the mountains.

"2016 is a very important year in my career because that's when I have to prove that I'm good enough to start the 2017 Tour de France in my city. I still live with my parents but me being a cyclist and my mother being the mayor have nothing to do with Düsseldorf's bid for the Grand Départ. That's been conducted by the marketing office under the Lord Mayor Thomas Geisel."

"Düsseldorf is a beautiful city," he continued. "It's been named in the top three of the world's ranking for the best places to live in."

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