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by Shane Stokes
March 8, 2016
Photography by Cor Vos
Building upon the return of mainstream German TV covering the Tour de France plus the start of the race in Germany next year, Tour organisers ASO and the German Cycling Federation (BDR) have announced a collaboration to grow the sport in the country.
The agreement, announced Tuesday, will also see the duo combining to bring about the return of the Deutschland Tour. It was first held in 1911, was held sporadically until 1999 and then ran until 2008 before being cancelled.
“ASO and the BDR, eager to support its expansion, have signed a long-term agreement to revive the Deutschland Tour and establish it as a top event over a ten-year horizon,” they stated. “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.”
Past winners include Alexandre Vinokourov, Michael Rogers, Jens Voigt and Linus Gerdemann [pictured].
The race is described as being as the centrepiece of the strategy to revive the sport in Germany.
Laying out the blueprint for the race, they said that it would play to the strengths of German riders and will feature sprint finishes plus courses ‘inspired by the great Classics.’ Developing the next generation of German Grand Tour riders is a stated goal.
“This is a pivotal agreement for the BDR,” said Rudolf Scharping, the President of the German Cycling Federation. “The new Deutschland Tour will help spread the love of cycling in Germany and increase the popularity of all its facets. 27 million Germans already ride their bicycles regularly, and many German cities have recognised the importance of cycling in their mobility strategies.
“This is why the Deutschland Tour will not only be a pure sporting event, but a huge celebration of cycling.”
ASO already organises some of the biggest races in cycling, including the Tour de France, the Vuelta a España, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Paris-Roubaix, the Critérium du Dauphiné and many more.
The announcement may have other implications, with ASO currently debating with the UCI over WorldTour reforms it has initially rejected. The French company said that if an agreement is not reached it will withdraw all of its events from the WorldTour in 2017; the threat of a resurrected Deutschland Tour being outside the top rank of cycling adds further leverage to ASO’s position.
The UCI is currently in discussion with ASO and is trying to find common ground.
ASO’s General Manager Yann Le Moënner said there is a clear plan to grow the sport in Germany.
“We share with the BDR the goal to make the Deutschland Tour attractive to wide swathes of the population and use the race to show them just how much fun cycling can be,” he stated. “As well as the elite competition, featuring the biggest champions from Germany and abroad, we will include rides for the thousands of dedicated amateurs and draw up an exciting programme for the fans and the wider public in the host cities.”
ASO’s expansion into other territories recently saw it take over from US company Medalist Sports in running the Tour of California.