It shouldn't really come as a surprise to anyone that we from the cap team are delighted that Düsseldorf will apply to start the 2017 Tour De France, the Grand Départ. But we're so presumptuous to believe that when it's over, the whole city will be in ecstasy as we welcome guests from all over the world to the biggest sporting event of 2017.
When we opened the chic cap, we were often asked from other cities whether it was reasonable to cycle in Düsseldorf, the city didn't have a good reputation in this regard. We too were aware that there was plenty of room for improvement when it came to cycling, but at the same time we were convinced that things must and will change. Now, almost a year and a half later, after intensive discussions, the city council decided with an extremely narrow majority to submit an application as the starting point of the Tour De France. And not only that, you also notice that the topic of cycling has arrived in the city, politicians are discussing across party lines and are obviously making an effort to initiate improvements. In this context, the start of the Tour De France can become an immense accelerator, so we think it is important and right for the city to seize this opportunity.
Düsseldorf is perfect for better integrating bicycle traffic, the city is compact, distances are short and flat almost everywhere. As in many cities, space is scarce, the construction work of the last few years has shown how much effort is needed to keep car traffic running smoothly, not to mention the parking situation in many inner-city residential areas. In this context, the bicycle is an obvious part of the solution, every cyclist is one car less in line at the traffic lights.
Now the question arises what this has to do with the Tour De France. A lot of. As part of the start, the city will experience an atmosphere that is contagious, if it gets the approval. And that alone gets people back on their bikes who, as drivers, have completely forgotten how great cycling can be. Düsseldorf and the entire area, from the Lower Rhine to the Bergisches Land, are perfectly suited as a cycling area and a calling card for a great region. Maybe we all just need to learn how much fun it is to explore by bike. We notice this on our guided tours, the enthusiasm for discovering new paths is great, both among locals and non-locals. Many are surprised at how diverse the surrounding area is, Düsseldorf has far more to offer than many expect.
Something else about racing: Anyone who still defines professional cycling only by doping is doing an injustice to many young athletes who love this sport and practice it with enthusiasm. You have to recognize that there have been many changes in the peloton over the last few years, although there are still isolated issues. But that doesn't only exist in cycling, in general in professional sport laws and rules are often bent and broken, sometimes far beyond our imagination. A critical look at football is not wrong.
So, let's keep our fingers crossed that Düsseldorf gets the nod. Let's look forward to the biggest sporting event in the world in 2017 and let's show our future guests now that they can look forward to a cosmopolitan and sports-loving city. And let's work to make the roads better and safer for cyclists. We all benefit from it.
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