Tag Archives: Germany

Go Gorilla

♫ André Greipel – Go Gorilla 

“Go Gorilla, rock your tool
You are the champion for us toujours
Go Gorilla, you are strong
And in the end you’ll be the number one”

Germany | YouTube – Sebastian Paddags | Tour de France 2017


The Road To Düsseldorf

In the year 2008 German television dropped the live coverage of the Tour de France. There were too many doping scandals and the German broadcasters thought it was the right thing to do. German rider Erik Zabel had announced the year before that he used doping during his career and in 2008 Bernhard Kohl and Stefan Schumacher both tested positive. In 2011 the decision was made to not broadcast any footage of the Tour de France anymore.

However, German riders were doing quite well in the Tour de France after 2011. There were three stage wins for Andre Greipel in 2012 and in the year 2013 there were four stage wins for Marcel Kittel, one for Greipel and one for Tony Martin. In 2014 there were four stage wins for Kittel, two for Tony Martin and one for Greipel. The public television broadcasters, ARD and ZDF, started to doubt their decision. These riders stated that they were racing without doping and would do anything to make cycling attractive again for the people in Germany. In 2015, the German broadcasters announced that they would be present at the Tour de France and even start to broadcast live again.

At this point there are hardly any professional cycling races in Germany. One of the biggest races of the country, the Deutschland Tour, got cancelled in 2008 due to the many doping scandals in Germany. It is strange to note that in one of the largest countries of Europe there are practically no WorldTour races. In a country with beautiful flat areas, great rivers, historical cities and wonderful high mountains. Hosting a cycing race in Germany would not only be good for cycling itself, but even better for the German tourist industry.

A change has come since last year. The German Cycling Federation (BRD) and the ASO are working together since 2016 in order to promote cycling in Germany. In a statement they released, it was said that they have signed “a long-term agreement to revive the Deutschland Tour and establish it as a top event over a ten-year horizon. Both partners are aiming to put the Deutschland Tour back on the calendar over the coming two years, as soon as all the key assets for a great stage race and a top-notch organisation are put in place.”

With new German sponsors entering the cycling world (Bora, Alpecin) in the last couple of years, it was only a matter of time until it was announced that the Tour de France would take off in Germany in 2017. Although many expected that the city of Berlin would host the Grand Depart, it was the industrial city Düsseldorf that made the right bet at the right time. The riders will start on Saturday with a time trial, a day later the riders will leave Germany and make their way from Düsseldorf to Liège. The hosting of the Tour de France this year is the first step to the goal of the ASO and the BRD to make cycling huge again in Germany. For the German people, the start of the Tour de France is not only just a couple of ‘cycling days’, it is a celebration of the re-birth of cycling in Germany.

Twenty Years Later

27 June 2017

A dad and his son. It is the year 1997 and the dad and his son are in Paris. The dad, Erik Zabel, just finished another Tour de France. He just won the green jersey for the second time. He also won three stages that year. He is one of the favorite riders of the peloton and very popular in his home country, Germany.

Who could have guessed that the little boy he is holding will start his first Tour de France this Saturday? Of course, it is special to be the son of one of the best sprinters in the peloton. But it is even more special to start this Grand Tour in your own country. The boy, Rick Zabel, is excited and he cannot wait to take off in Düsseldorf. He probably won’t win any of the sprint stages, but he could get away in one of the flat stages and who knows what might happen then…

Erik and Rick Zabel / © Tim De Waele

Der Rudi

On the 28th of August in 1966 the World Championship road race was held on the circuit of Nurburgring in West Germany. For once there were no motorbikes on the circuit, but just bikes. Without engines or helmets. Riders were just wearing a cap on their head to protect them against the sun. Nowadays it is hard to imagine a rider without a helmet. But it was quite normal back then.

It was dry that day, so a lot of spectators came out to see the riders. There was a lot of wind, which played a huge part and the circuit was not flat at all. At the start there were 74 professional riders, only 22 of them would finish. It shows that it was one tough race on the circuit of Nurburgring.

Of course, Jacques Anquetil was one of the favorites. He was riding for France along with Raymond Poulidor and Jean Stablinksi. Shay Elliot, an Irish rider, was also competing. He was a strong sprinter. And Gianni Motta participated for Italy. But during the race, some odd things happened. Gianni Motta was riding for Altig, instead for his own teammates of Italy. Also, it was said that Anquetil rather saw Altig take the win than his French teammate Poulidor. The Irish rider Elliot went for his own chance, but during the race he felt that he wasn’t good enough. He decided to help his old teammate Rudi Altig. When Anquetil and Poulidor went off together, it was with the help of Elliot that Altig could make the jump to the two Frenchmen.

In the sprint Rudi Altig beat Anquetil (second) and Poulidor (third), claiming his first and only World Championship victory ever. After already some great victories on his palmares (winning the Vuelta in 1962, green jersey in the Tour de France of 1962, Tour of Flanders in 1964), this victory was one of the best of his whole career. It was extra special, because the event took place in his own country and he made all the West Germans very proud. He became one of the cycling heroes in Germany and still remained a hero after he ended his career and became a television commentator. The cycling world in Germany was in shock after he passed away this summer at the age of 79. It would be quite something if, after exactly 50 years, another German rider would cross the finish line as the first one. Preferably a sprint. Rudi Altig would have been so proud.

Rudi Altig wearing his rainbow jersey. Sitting on the left is Tom Simpson, World Champion in 1965 and next to Altig is Jacques Anquetil. On the right of Altig is Eddy Merckx, World Champion in the year after Altig, in 1967. (copyright: http://www.stevetilford.com)