Tour de France

Dusseldorf considering Tour de France start bid

Dusseldorf wants to become the first German city in 30 years to host Tour's Grand Départ, vies for 2018 race start.

BERLIN (AFP) — The German city of Dusseldorf would like to host the opening stage of the Tour de France, municipal authorities revealed on Wednesday.

“We told them we were interested last spring and the Town Hall was informed that it would be possible as of 2018,” spokesman Dieter Schneider-Bichel told German news agency SID, a subsidiary of AFP.

Spectacular, globally-televised Grand Départs in the Netherlands, Corsica, and Yorkshire in recent years have attracted great interest in those regions.

Dusseldorf mayor Thomas Geisel has set up a study group to ascertain the financial viability after London mayor Boris Johnson pulled the plug on the scheduled 2017 Grand Départ in the English capital, due to a bill of 35 million pounds ($53 million).

Johnson referred to the bill as a ‘no-brainer,’ explaining that while he was a ‘have-your-cake-and-eat-it kind of guy,’ he would prefer to spend the money on cycle lanes.

The 2016 race will start from the iconic French coastal citadel of Mont Saint-Michel, while Manchester and Edinburgh are vying to step into the vacant slot left by London for 2017.

The Tour de France has started from Germany three times: in Cologne in 1965, Frankfurt in 1980, and Berlin in 1987. German riders won six stages in the 2015 Tour, which was screened live in Germany by national broadcaster ARD after a three-year gap provoked by widespread disgust over doping incidents.

Sprinter André Greipel won four stages, Tony Martin won the individual time trial, and Simon Geschke won a mountain stage. Germany is unlikely to produce an overall winner any time soon, however, as it has lacked a true climbing specialist since 1997 winner Jan Ullrich, who was later found to have doped during his career.