Grand Départ 2017 : Düsseldorf
Director of the Tour de France
Thirty years later!
The Tour likes to look at its history because it has the vocation of turning towards the future. It was already its inspiration back in 1987 when it had launched a strong signal, an invitation to eastern Europe by taking off by the Berlin Wall. That look back in the rear view mirror pushes us to look back at thirty years of cycling and especially the evolution of German riders that had until then mainly shined through stage victories, from Rudi Altig to Dietrich Thurau. The greatest honours of the Tour de France were witnessed by the German fans during the next decade before a cruel disappointment that followed leading to deny the event itself.
Through their severity, the Germans showed through these events their insight. In a certain way they acted as the barometer of the troubles of our sport that has since then seen a generation of new champions appear. Among them, André Greipel, Tony Martin, Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb have conquered titles and reconquered hearts. They delivered a message of hope and confidence that has notably allowed the return of public television channel ARD, well decided to bring a new vision of a changed cycling.
It was this idea, this vision that Düsseldorf wanted to be associated to, and its inhabitants have never stopped riding their bikes. Set on both banks of the Rhine River, the capital of North Rhine -Westphalia was designated to welcome the return of la Grande Boucle to Germany. Mayor Thomas Geisel, believed in this destiny: through his determination, he too ended a long wait…
Mayor of Düsseldorf
An honour and a pleasure
When dreams come true… the Tour de France is starting from Düsseldorf in 2017! It is an honour, after 30 years, to be the fourth German host city of the Grand Départ and to be able to celebrate the start of the most famous cycling race in the world with our guests.
It is both an honour and a pleasure for our city on the Rhine which as the capital of the most densely populated federal state can offer everything you would expect from a good host. We enjoy welcoming people here to “Little Paris”.
I therefore warmly invite you to discover the people and the beauty of our city. From culture via shopping to remarkable architecture including both historical landmarks (Church of St Lambert) and impressive modern structures (buildings designed by Frank O. Gehry), there is something for everyone here. Or why don’t you just enjoy our Rhenish version of joie de vivre.
And sports are also given a high profile here. Düsseldorf is mad about sports. Our three most famous teams Fortuna (football), DEG (ice hockey) and Borussia (table tennis) ensure there is plenty of sporting passion on the pitches and courts and among the fans. And recreational sport also plays a key role here in our city with over 300 clubs.
In a growing metropolis like Düsseldorf, the bicycle is not just for leisure purposes. That is why we are building a 300-kilometre-long cycle path network and are promoting the bike as a fast and ecological means of transport. The Grand Départ can also make an important contribution to this concept.
We, inhabitants of Düsseldorf, with our visitors, are looking forward to being able to welcome and celebrate sports, cycling and its champions during the Grand Départ of the 104th Tour de France.
Cosmopolitan charm and Rhenish joie de vivre characterise the North Rhine-Westphalia state capital Düsseldorf with its almost 620,000 inhabitants. And yet Düsseldorf used to be just a small village which grew up alongside the Düssel stream (explaining the name, Düssel plus “Dorf” or village in English) and the settlement was granted town privileges in 1288. Today, this dynamic and likeable metropolis on the Rhine stands for business, shopping, culture, sports and hospitality.
The business location of Düsseldorf is the heart of the Rhine-Ruhr region with 11.6 million inhabitants and 500,000 companies and is one of the leading commercial, service and communication centres. It is not far from the shopping boulevard Königsallee, affectionately known as “Kö”, to the historic Old Town with its 260 bars and restaurants where visitors can easily enter into conversation with the Düsseldorf locals. The neighbouring Rhine embankment promenade contributes to the city’s Mediterranean lifestyle, inviting visitors for a stroll alongside the water. The “Kunstakademie” or Arts Academy as well as more than two dozen museums and exhibition halls, Schloss Benrath, the Düsseldorf theatre, the German opera house, “Deutsche Oper am Rhein”, the concert hall “Tonhalle”, over one hundred galleries, numerous stages and concert venues make Düsseldorf a recognised cultural metropolis. Sports are also popular here. In addition to recreational sports and the city’s professional sports teams, major sporting events are also regularly staged here. In 2017 alone, not only the Grand Départ but also the Table Tennis World Championship and the Triathlon European Championship will be taking place in the sporting city of Düsseldorf.
No wonder that international research surveys rank Düsseldorf among the leading cities in the world when it comes to quality of life.
In July 2017, Düsseldorf will welcome the fourth German Grand Départ of the Tour de France, after Cologne (1965), Frankfurt (1980) and Berlin-West (1987).
Cycling historians know Josef Fischer as the winner of the first edition of Paris-Roubaix in 1896. His influence on the Tour de France was less commentated but he was part of the “unconscious and tough energy sowers” Henri Desgrange talked about on the morning of the very first stage in 1903 (15th at the finish in Paris), and he therefore remains the pioneer of all the German riders on La Grande Boucle. Kurt Stöpel who claimed the first ever stage success of his nation could have had far more fame if he had managed to keep the Yellow Jersey he conquered for one day, all the way to Paris. He had to settle for a runner-up position in 1932 behind André Leducq. No other German rider really got closer to the supreme title although Dietrich Thurau carried the Yellow Jersey on his shoulders throughout France, and a part of Germany, during the 1977 edition… and even Jan Ullrich was just an illusion until the very end twenty years later. However managed to shine, at different periods, in terms of stage victories, the German riders even have the record number of stage wins on the last three editions. André Greipel, with ten victories, leads the way ahead of Marcel Kittel, eight stages under the belt, but who, at 27 years of age, has the advantage of youth. Tony Martin shared his five triumphs in both time-trials and normal stages while John Degenkolb, also 27, will undoubtedly convert his talents as a Classic hunter to a Tour stage collector. And the future is just as bright…
By plane: International airport of Düsseldorf, 8 kilometres from the city centre.
By train: Several daily Thalys trains from Paris. Time of journey: 3h45.
By road: 505 kms from Paris to Düsseldorf by the highway.
Dates to remember
Wednesday, June 28th: Opening of the race headquarters and the press centre at Messe Düsseldorf (Exhibition Park).
Thursday, June 29th: Team presentation of the 2017 Tour de France at the Burgplatz.
Saturday, July 1st: First stage, Düsseldorf > Düsseldorf individual time-trial of 13 kilometres.
Sunday, July 2nd: Start of the second stage, Düsseldorf > ...
DÜSSELDORF > DÜSSELDORF
A time-trial of 13 kilometres in the streets of Düsseldorf, this will be the first exercise offered to the riders of the 2017 Tour de France. The start will take place in front of the Messe, the exhibition park where the race headquarters and press centre of the event will be set. After taking off on the east side of the Rhine river heading towards the south-east of the city, the riders will cross the river for a loop on the left bank, before again crossing in the opposite direction to go to Königsallee, the emblematic street of the city. Then, after the opera, the course turns to the north-west, once again along the Rhine. The finish will be decided by the Messe. “It’ll be an entirely flat course on wide avenues. The time-trial specialists will be able to express their potential”, explains Thierry Gouvenou, in charge of cycling competitions at Amaury Sport Organisation.
DÜSSELDORF > ...
It’ll be from the Burgplatz, the castle place, having hosted the team presentation three days before, that stage two will take off. On a distance of 9 kilometres, it will start by a long parade going along the Düsseldorf harbour. The official start will take place on the east side of the city on Kaiserstrasse and as soon as kilometre 6, the first points of the king of the mountain competition will be awarded at the top of Grafenberg. The pack will then leave the city towards east to go through Erkrath and the Neander valley, a prehistoric site where the bones of the Neanderthal Man were discovered. The race then heads north towards Mettmann and then west to once travel through Düsseldorf. Around fifty kilometres of this second stage will have been covered before heading to…
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Sponsorship and Environment
Since it was founded, Amaury Sport Organisation has been involved in various sponsorship and philanthropy activities. It is the generosity of sport that can be found in a certain number of initiatives aiming to invest in the workings of the disciplines themselves (sponsorship of the French Federation of Cycling), in a humanitarian and social framework, (Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque, Actions Dakar, Un Techo Para Mi Pais) or in the environmental sphere (Madre De Dios, selective sorting, etc.). Read more
A.S.O. is committed to integrating environmental considerations into the organisation of its races: Limiting CO2 emissions; A quality waste management policy for the spectators but also for the organisers and the riders; The promotion of cycling as an alternative, environmentally-friendly means of transport. Read more