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Cyclists slam Düsseldorf 2017 Tour de France bid

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Cyclists slam Düsseldorf 2017 Tour de France bid
Professional cyclists André Greipel (r), Marcel Sieberg (m) und Ruben Zepuntke (l) backed Düsseldorf's bid. Photo: DPA
11:54 CET+01:00
Düsseldorf city councillors narrowly approved on Thursday the mayor's bid to host the opening stage of the world's most famous cycling race, the Tour de France, in 2017 - in the face of widespread criticism.

The vote passed narrowly, with 40 votes to 39 for the plans from city mayor Thomas Geisel to bring the Grand Départ to the city.

"This is very good news for the city and for sport cycling in Germany," German Cycling Federation (BDR) president Rudolf Scharping told Der Spiegel.

But critics, including the German Cyclists' Federation (ADFC) said that the high costs of up to €6 million for the city budget weren't worth it.

"It's a nice big sporting celebration that will see a lot of money spent in the city and attract a lot of tourists, but it won't help people who cycle every day very much," ADFC North Rhine Westphalia (NRW) spokeswoman Isabelle Klarenaar told The Local.

Düsseldorf isn't very bike-friendly and lacks the infrastructure that would make cyclists' lives easier, Klarenaar said.

The NRW capital placed just 34th out of 39 in an ADFC survey of bike-friendliness earlier this year.

Others argued that cycling's recent history of doping scandals meant that the event wouldn't help Düsseldorf's sporting reputation.

The city of Münster – which topped the ADFC cycling table in February - and the federal state of Saarland have also expressed an interest in hosting the first stage.

The Grand Départ has only been seen in Germany three times since the Tour de France began in 1903, in Cologne (1965), Frankfurt (1980) and West Berlin (1987).

Eight other years have seen stages of the Tour hosted in German cities, with the most recent in Karlsruhe and Pforzheim in 2005.

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