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by Shane Stokes
December 23, 2015
Photography by Cor Vos
In September London major Boris Johnson unexpectedly abandoned a bid to host the start of the 2017 Tour de France; three months on from that, the site for the Grand Départ has been named.
German city Düsseldorf has stepped up to fill the void, continuing a revival of the sport in Germany.
The decision was confirmed by Tour organiser ASO on Tuesday, with the French company noting that it will be the 22nd Grand Départ outside French borders.
It also pointed out that the date was significant.
“Thirty years after West Berlin (1987), the Tour de France peloton will again set off from Germany as it launches the 104th edition of the race. This will be the fourth time that the Tour de France gets going in Germany.”
It said that further details will be revealed in January.
The Tour began in England in 2014, with the first two stages taking place in Yorkshire and the third finishing in London. It was regarded as a resounding success, with an estimated four million spectators attending the first two stages in Yorkshire and a reported boost to the local economy of £100 million.
However despite cycling’s ongoing popularity in Britain, and three Tour wins in the past four years, London stepped back at the last moment. The news that it would abandon what had been a successful bid came just one day before contracts were due to be signed.
At the time the managing director of the Transport for London (TFL) company, which would have put up the funds, explained the decision.
“To ensure value for money we must make difficult choices,” Leon Daniels told BBC Sport. “We have always said that the return of the Tour was subject to funding.”
Johnson later said that the decision was his.
The decision to host the race in Germany was a tight one. The city council voted 40-39 in favour last month.
Germany experienced considerable Tour success this season, despite Marcel Kittel’s absence. André Greipel took four stages and Tony Martin and Simon Geschke won one each.