German city Dusseldorf wants to host the start of the Tour de France for 2018. German agency SID, reported on Wednesday that a working group is already looking at the economic feasibility and considering an application to organiser ASO.
The news comes after London pulled its bid to host the Grand Départ of cycling's biggest stage race. That bid was, however, was for the 2017 start and Mayor Boris Johnson said £35m was too much to pay for a one-off event.
Germany, which last hosted the race start in 1987, sees it differently. The scenic helicopter shots of thousands of fans providing tourism and recognition to Yorkshire and Utrecht in the last two years may pull in the western German city.
“We told them we were interested last spring and the Town Hall was informed that it would be possible as of 2018,” spokesman for Düsseldorf Mayor, Dieter Schneider-Bichel said.
Geisel formed a working group that in the next month will examine the financial feasibility and benefits to the city. It reportedly will also consider the reasons behind London’s withdrawal.
The Tour began its race only three times in Germany. West Berlin saw off the race in 1987, Frankfurt in 1980 and Cologne in 1965.
Since 1987, German cycling has gone from high to low and back to another high. After the Telekom/T-Mobile doping scandals with Jan Ullrich and Erik Zabel, national broadcaster ARD pulled the plug on coverage.
ARD returned after a three-year gap along with the cyclists and teams. André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) are winning the sprints, John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) the classics, Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) time trials, and Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) and Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) everything else.
Germany counts two professional teams, Bora-Argon 18 and Giant-Alpecin in the WorldTour. Yesterday, Belgian team Etixx-Quick-Step announced a new deal with German supermarket chain LIDL.
Dusseldorf already unsuccessfully bid twice, in 2009 and 2010. In 2009, the Tour began instead in Monaco and in 2010, Rotterdam.
The 2016 Tour de France will start from the coastal island of Mont Saint-Michel in Northwest France next July 2. The 2017 start location remains open to bidders, which might still include Manchester and Edinburgh.
Watch: Best of the 2015 Tour de France
The Tour de France's starts abroad
1954 Amsterdam, The Netherlands
1958 Brussel, Belgium
1965 Cologne, Germany
1973 Scheveningen, The Netherlands
1975 Charleroi, Belgium
1978 Leiden, The Netherlands
1980 Frankfurt, Germany
1982 Basel, Switzerland
1987 West-Berlin, Germany
1992 San Sebastián, Spain
1996 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
1998 Dublin, Ireland
2004 Liège, Belgium
2007 London, Great Britain
2009 Monte Carlo, Monaco
2010 Rotterdam, The Netherlands
2012 Liège, Belgium
2014 Leeds, Great Britain
2015 Utrecht, The Netherlands
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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