Dylan Groenewegen at the party, bike-crazed Danes

Dylan Groenewegen at the party, bike-crazed Danes

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Topography of its territory obliges, the Dane has a certain conception of the mountain. So, this Sunday, July 3, for the third stage of the Tour de France, the public took out the chalk – as is the custom of supporters in the Alpine or Pyrenean passes – in the three difficulties listed for the classification of the best climber. In the fourth category, we must not exaggerate either.

When you know that the coast of Hejlsminde Strand is, in reality, an 800 meter climb, you are not really surprised to find the motley asphalt on almost all of the 182 kilometers traveled between Vejle and Sonderborg, via self-proclaimed Haderslev “city of sausages”. Nor to learn that the only two local riders to have worn the best climber’s polka dot jersey over the past ten years are Michael Morkov and Magnus Cort Nielsen… more like sprinters.

Read also: Tour de France 2022: Michael Morkov, the “pilot fish” that all sprinters dream of

This Sunday, as usual, the former focused on its role as pilot fish for Fabio Jakobsen, the designated favorite after his victory on Saturday. But sprinting is delicate clockwork. Even for the Quick-Step. We had done everything well until this last bend, explains Florian Sénéchal, in charge of bringing the Dutchman between the red flame and the last 500 meters. But when I turn around, Fabio was no longer there. It’s like that. Sometimes you have to slam on the brakes and you lose ten places. It’s the Tour and everyone wants to beat us. »

Ironically, today’s winner is another Dutchman. And not just any. The name of Dylan Groenewegen has been associated since August 2020 with the terrible fall of the same Jakobsen on the Tour of Poland, for which he was suspended for nine months. The BikeExchange Jayco rider is one wheel ahead of Wout van Aert, yellow jersey and compulsive collector of second places on this Tour. “I love winning races and when I’m so close to winning as I’ve been the last three days, it’s a bit frustrating,” sighs the Belgian from Jumbo-Visma.

“I really had a blast”

A finding contrary to that of Magnus Cort Nielsen who may have finished 156e3 min 25 s from the winner, but who also raised his arms on the line, all smiles under his famous blonde bacchante. The EF Education Easy-Post runner sums up his day at the microphone of France 2: “I really had a blast. It was just euphoria. Unbelievable. »

Determined to honor his best climber’s jersey, the Dane said to himself that before seeing the Tour caravan pack up in the direction of Dunkirk (North), he might as well go get the three small points at stake in the mountain classification. As soon as the start was given, he left. All alone. And drove a long time. Not far from 140 km. With a good part of the population of the kingdom present to applaud him as he passes, like a crown prince.

Since the start of this Tour, Magnus Cort Nielsen has fled the peloton: he is already almost seven hours into the breakaway. “It’s really something special to open the road on the Tour de Francesaid Cyril Barthe (B & B Hotels-KTM), himself escaped – and quickly outdistanced – by the mustache, on Saturday. When you see all these people… Being acclaimed by this public, it gives goosebumps! »

A popular success worthy of London in 2007

The organizers had promised that this Danish getaway would be one of borders and fervor. If we did not have the first, the second jumped out at the eyes and eardrums of the follower. By 9:30 a.m., some Danes had set up camp on the side of the road, in Kolding, where the peloton was not expected until five hours later. On this relatively sunny Sunday – the rain only started ten minutes before the finish – there were thousands of them on the way to the Tour.

Something to bring back memories to the “dean” of this edition, the Belgian Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal), twelve Tours de France on the clock: “It made me think of 2007 and the start in London. Here it was very impressive. Almost as if there was half the country on the side of the road. »

Read also: Relive the 3rd stage of the Tour: victory for Dylan Groenewegen, Van Aert still in yellow

The 182 kilometers of the route took on the air of a giant festival between the barnums set up in the middle of the villages, the thousand and one picnic tables more or less well laid out – some with a cloth tablecloth and stemmed glasses –, or even the agricultural trailers and other containers transformed into a grandstand. The front of the Osterso hotel located by the sea in the town of Aabenraa has been entirely painted yellow, while here and there, houses with red polka dots have grown, a nod to the jersey of the best climber. “We worked hard, huh”laughed this Dane.

In the last hour of the race, the peloton decided to take second. Too bad, he missed the classical music concert given in the middle of the fields about twenty kilometers from the finish. The violins and basses are now put away, like the riders’ bikes ready to take one of the four planes chartered by the Tour management.

Head to Lille-Lesquin airport for a 900 kilometer flight. After a day of transition, the Dunkerque-Calais stage (171 km) will mark the French debut of this Tour 2022. And even if “Denmark is a beautiful country”Florian Sénéchal, he is in a hurry to shell his “beautiful French champion jersey”. Even more in his native North.

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