A guide to the Tour de France
The Grand Départ 2017 takes place in Duesseldorf, Germany, capital of the Nord Rhein-Westphalia state, and known as 'Little Paris'.
Duesseldorf stepped in at short notice after then London Mayor Boris Johnson rejected the opportunity to host the event. Duesseldorf Mayor Thomas Geisel said, 'I would like to thank all those who worked very hard and at such short notice to realise our successful bid.'
There will be a programme of events and festivities in the build-up to the Grand Départ. The events of the Grand Départ itself begin with the team presentation on Thursday 29th June 2017; official team training takes place on Friday 30th June; then the Stage 1 time trial in Duesseldorf is on Saturday 1st July, and the Stage 2 from Duesseldorf to Liège is on Sunday 2nd July.
The Grand Départ will have a role in promoting the bicycle as a practical mode of transport, as part of Duesseldorf's Radschlag campaign. (Radschlag is a play on words: the Radschläger, or boy doing a cartwheel. is the city's symbol; Rad means 'wheel', and Fahrrad is 'bicycle'). The city has set itself the goal of increasing the proportion of journeys made by bike, from 14% to 25%, and is building a 'main cycle network', with 300km of bike lanes in total.
This is the promotional video for the 2017 Grand Départ in Duesseldorf:
Stage 1 is a 13km time trial around Duesseldorf, giving locals and visitors the chance to see each of the riders taking part in the 2017 Tour de France on the city's streets. The German riders like Tony Martin and Marcel Kittel are sure to receive the loudest encouragement. The route starts and finishes at Messe Duesseldorf, and the route is a loop south to the Oberkasseler Brücke, back over the Rhein on the Rheinknie Brücke, then along Königsalle and Heinrich Heine Allee on the way back.
Read more about Stage 1, Tour de France 2017.
Stage 2 is a 202km flat stage from Duesseldorf to Liège (Belgium). It begins with a loop east of Duesseldorf, taking in the Neander Valley, then returning to the start city, before heading west via Möngchengladbach and Chaudfontaine to the finish in Liège. It's likely to be the first opportunity for the sprinters (and perhaps a chance for the stage winner to take the yellow jersey).
Read more about Stage 2, Tour de France 2017.
These are some of the events and festivities planned in the build-up to the 2017 Tour:
*Bicycle Film Festival, 9th to 12th February 2017
*Night of the Museums with 100 days to go before the Tour, 25th March 2017
*Children's cycle race: heat on 25th March 2017, and four other dates; final on 1st July 2017
*Tour de France photo exhibition at the NRW Forum, 29th May to 28th July 2017
*The World has Pedals exhibition at Duesseldorf City Hall, 5th to 16th June 2017
*Bicycle Friendly City exhibition at the Stadtmuseum, 16th June to 2nd July 2017
*Fête du Vélo, 17th June 2017
*Cycling on Board exhibition at Duesseldorf City Hall, 17th June to 31st July 2017
*Festival of Lights at Benrath Palace, 30th July 2017 from 6pm
Stage 3 of the 2017 Tour de France is 202km from Verviers, Belgium, via Luxembourg, to Longwy, France. It takes in the rolling forests of the Ardennes.
Read about Stage 3, Tour de France 2017.
Duesseldorf is the capital of the Nord Rhein-Westphalia state, and the seventh biggest city in Germany (population 593,000). It is sometimes known as 'little Paris'. It is the venue of the Grand Départ 2017.
It gets its name from the river Duessel, which flows into the Rhein here.
It is a business and financial centre, with telecommunications one of the important industries (D2Vodafone and E-Plus are based here). Messe Duesseldorf holds a lot of trade fairs. Mercedes Benz Sprinter vans are built here.
The band Kraftwerk come from Duesseldorf, as did metal merchants Warlock. There's a significant Japanese community.
There were farming and fishing villages here in the C7th and C8th, but Duesseldorf is first mentioned in 1135. It came under the rule of the Counts of Berg, and was granted priviledges by Count Adolf VIII in 1288. It was part of the territory conquered by Napoleon, then belonged to the Kingdom of Prussia from 1815.
Duesseldorf was bombed during World War II, particularly by the RAF in 1943. It was captured by the US Army on 18th April 1945, and became the capital of Nord Rhein-Westphalia in 1946.
Altbier is the speciality beer in the bars of Duesseldorf. It's a little like a pale ale.
The city's symbol is the Radschläger, which is a boy doing a cartwheel. It may originate from the 1288 battle, won by the Counts of Berg. Legend has it that children did cartwheels in the street to celebrate this victory.
Duesseldorf is twinned with Reading (UK), Toulouse (France), and Lillehammer (Norway).
The Neandertal, or Neander valley, is famous as the place where Neanderthal 1, the first homo neanderthalensis was found in August 1856. Limestone was quarried here, and during the quarrying operations, the Neanderthal bones were found in a cave in a limestone cliff. (The cave no longer exists).
The valley's name comes from a local pastor who lived in
Duesseldorf in the C17th, Joachim Neumann (Neander, in Greek). Neumann
loved the valley, which inspired his paintings.
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