Düsseldorf in Germany is being tipped to host the Grand Depart of the 2017 Tour de France instead of London, which had been awarded the event only for Mayor Boris Johnson to order that the bid be withdrawn the day before contracts were due to be signed with race owners, ASO.
The city is the capital of the North Rhine-Westphalia region and home to electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk – the group behind the seminal 1983 single, Tour de France – as well as the setting for the first season of the 1980s ITV series Auf Weidersehen Pet.
Dieter Schneider-Bichel, spokeman for mayor Thomas Geisel, who met with ASO in July, told the broadcaster WRD that he would be in a position to say more in around three weeks’ time, adding that the race beginning in the city tied in with its “political and strategic considerations.”
He also noted that in recent years, cycling in Germany has managed to distance itself from the taint of doping that had caused sponsors and broadcasters to pull out of the sport.
The momentum behind rival German bids from Münster and Saarland has cooled according to WRD, making Düsseldorf the favourite to play host to the start of what will be the 104th edition of the race.
Meanwhile Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme insists that race organisers ASO are not angry with TfL’s decision to withdraw its bid, as had been reported on Monday.
Quoted on the Eurosport website, he said: "Contrary to what has been reported, we are not angry at all.
"We are still grateful for the Grand Depart in 2007 [the last time the race began in the British capital] and London pulling out does not change the fact that cycling is now big in Britain."
As for speculation over when details of the 2017 Grand Depart would be revealed, he said it would be "during the winter, just like we do every year.”
He added: "We were not just about to announce it as I read here and there."
Typically, ASO confirms the host city of the Grand Depart in November or December each year, more than a year and a half before the relevant edition of the race is due to begin.
The full route of next year’s race, which starts at Mont-St Michel in Normandy, will be unveiled in Paris on 20 October.
The Grand Depart has previously taken place in Germany on three occasions – in Cologne in 1965, Frankfurt am Main in 1980, and seven years later in West Berlin.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.