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.