By Gregor Brown
Düsseldorf moved closer to hosting the start of the 2017 Tour de France when the city voted in a narrow 40-39 vote yesterday to bid for the Grand Tour. If successful, it would be the first time for Germany to see off the race since West Berlin in 1987.
The vote puts the fashion and art city on the Rhine River in pole position for the 2017 Tour start. London, after beating out Edinburgh and Manchester to host the Grand Départ, pulled its bid in September.
Mayor Thomas Geisel campaigned hard for the event. He met with race director Christian Prudhomme at the Tour this July to express his interest.
"Germany is a very important country in Europe," Prudhomme told the DPA news agency. "There is a lot of enthusiasm. We are working with several different cities on a return to Germany and I hope that it will become reality."
Watch: The best of the 2015 Tour de France
Prudhomme previously named cities Münster and Mannheim, and the Saarland state.
The Grand Départ typically runs four to five days with the teams arriving on Wednesday, a team presentation and the first stage. Additional stages could take place south through the Rhineland before the Tour re-enters its homeland.
Düsseldorf studied the costs, according to the SID news agency. Its budget should be around €6.2m or £4.4m, but it should bring in €57m to hotels and generate €30m in advertising.
Utrecht hosted the start of the 2015 Tour this July. At the time of its winning bid, it said that it proposed a €10m (£7.17m) budget with half from the city and half from private businesses.
Mayor Boris Johnson said London's budget was to be £35m and was "an awful lot to spend on a one-off event when you could put that money in to long-term projects."
Düsseldorf said in October that it was interested in the 2018 start, but has now moved its bid one year forward.
The Tour de France welcomes the bids and resurgence of cycling in Germany after years affected by doping sandals. Prudhomme said that he only had one bid from Germany to host the start from 2006 to 2014, but now he has a handful.
It may come thanks to public broadcaster ARD, which returned to air the Tour this July after a three-year absence. Or thanks to the cyclists.
Germany won six stages in the Tour with André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) and Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin), while John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) won Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix.
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