AMIENS, France (Reuters) - After a three-year hiatus live coverage of the Tour de France is again being broadcast on public television in Germany and is enjoying increased attention buoyed by the success of their riders.
German TV has had a troubled relationship with the Tour, pulling out of covering the event in 2007 after Patrik Sinkewitz failed a doping test ahead of the race.
Coverage returned in 2008 but was pulled again in 2012 with broadcasters citing poor viewing figures.
Broadcaster ARD are showing the Tour this year and next and, after five days, German Tony Martin is leading the general classification with one stage victory while compatriot Andre Greipel has won a further two stages.
“It’s an honor (to be back on German TV),” Martin, who won Tuesday’s stage after a punishing ride on the cobbles of northern France, said on Wednesday.
“First of all it is because we showed we made some good sport. The pressure was high to show what we are able to do and repeat what we did in the past.
“This year, three wins and a yellow jersey after five stages you couldn’t expect a better start for German cycling.”
Last year, German riders also shone with Marcel Kittel and Greipel winning seven stages combined.
Kittel, who is not competing this year because of fitness issues, wore the overall leader’s yellow jersey last year after victory on the opening stage.
Germany boasts a strong generation of sprinters with Kittel, Greipel and John Degenkolb.
“I’m really happy that we’re getting the media’s attention, that we’re on the first program in Germany,” said Greipel.
“It’s a reward after four, five successful years. We can be proud that our victories are bringing the Tour de France back to Germany.”
There could be more success on Thursday with Degenkolb among the favorites for the sixth stage, a 191.5-km ride between Abbeville and Le Havre.
Reporting by Julien Pretot, editing by Tom Hayward