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Live coverage of Tour de France set to return to German TV screens

Success of new crop of riders plus top-flight sponsor suggest country falling in love with pro cycling again

Live coverage of the Tour de France is reportedly set to return to free-to-air TV in Germany in July for the first time since 2011.

According to Der Spiegel, the channel ARD has agreed to broadcast the race for the next two years, after it was dropped due to a succession of doping scandals involving German riders that resulted in ratings plummeting.

The magazine says that ARD has acquired the rights for less than €5 million, and its contract includes a get-out clause that will allow it to annul the agreement should fresh doping cases arise.

Top German riders including Jan Ullrich, Patrik Sinkewitz and Stefan Schumacher have all been banned for using performance enhancing drugs, while Erik Zabel has also admitted having done so.

Doping scandals also led Germany-based sponsors such as T-Mobile and Gerolsteiner to end their involvement with the sport.

A new generation of cyclists – notably Tony Martin, Marcel Kittel and André Greipel, who between them won seven stages of last year’s Tour de France – have helped rekindle public interest in the sport.

The coming season also sees the arrival on the scene of a new German sponsor at WorldTour level – haircare brand Alpecin, which will co-sponsor Kittel’s team, which raced last year as Giant Shimano, and also includes John Degenkolb on its roster.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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