Spectators or runners, we do not know which were the happiest of these first three stages of the Tour de France in Denmark, from July 1 to 3. With Danish flags at every window, supporters dressed in yellow and an atmosphere sometimes comparable to that of Alpe d’Huez, the Danes gave a big party to the Tour de France, which they were hosting for the first time. And to make the atmosphere even more beautiful, Danish cycling does not arrive empty-handed in France for the rest of the Grande Boucle, since Magnus Cort Nielsen donned the polka dot jersey in front of his public.
As soon as the teams were presented on Wednesday June 29, the riders and observers present quickly felt that this Grand Départ would have something different. In Tivoli Gardens, in the heart of Copenhagen, thousands of people gathered to catch a glimpse of the stars of the peloton, including Dane Jonas Vingegaard, second in the Tour last year, eagerly awaited and welcomed like a rockstar by his compatriots , which almost brought tears to his eyes. On the stage, the presenter of the ceremony, Dennis Ritter, even had difficulty being heard by the runners: “I was amazed and proud. I was hoping that we could give the Tour de France this gift, this fervor, but it goes beyond my expectations. The riders couldn’t hear my questions on stage, and it was great to see their reaction when they got off. They passed by me and I exchanged glances with some, who were really impressed“.
The @JumboVismaRoad and Jonas Vingegaard take the stage. Like Jakob Fuglsang before him, Vingegaard won the applause meter and was very moved when he took the microphone to thank the public. #TDF2022 @francetvsport pic.twitter.com/TKNyEzNVnc
— Hortense Leblanc (@hortense_lblnc) June 29, 2022
Many runners did not hesitate to take out their smartphone to immortalize the moment, and shared their wonder during the first stages on social networks, like Pierre Rolland on Twitter: “Today I cycled through a 200 kilometer stadium“. The French rider of the B&B Hotels-KTM will therefore keep a very good memory of Denmark, even if all this fervor can have drawbacks. “The welcome was great, it was impressive, there were a lot of people, and not a single place without a spectator on the road. On the other hand, we had to put the volume fully in the earphones, and that made for quite exhausting days with a lot of noise.“
The sound of the ovations, Magnus Cort Nielsen was obviously determined to take advantage of it. The Dane enjoyed crowd baths by opening the road on the two stages in line on his land, Saturday and Sunday, with a polka dot jersey at the key. “I really had fun, there was a lot of euphoria, it was really amazing. I put the package, without thinking of my legs“, savored the rider of the EF Education-Easypost team, who made the show by celebrating each of the points won for the classification of the best climber.
If the public was present in number in front of the bus of his team to see the polka dot jersey Sunday morning at the start of the 3rd and last Danish stage, many spectators also massed in front of the bus of the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, formation which has the most Danes in its group for the Grande Boucle, with Kasper Asgreen, Michael Morkov and Mikkel Honoré. The latter started his first Tour de France at home and said he was overwhelmed by the atmosphere around the race. “Sometimes you have a lot of adrenaline, it’s hard to control, but it’s the best feeling I’ve had in my life. Sometimes it’s difficult to stay focused with all this crowd, but at the same time , it gives you energy. I try to concentrate to do my job as well as possible, sometimes I grimace, but I smile inside.“
Faced with such excitement around their bus, the three Danish riders of the Belgian formation could not resist the urge to sign autographs to a large crowd, despite the caution instructions of the organization of the race to fight against Covid-19. Among the happy spectators, Pia Hansen was able to have her cap autographed by Michael Morkov: “I was watching the Tour on TV until now, and it’s fantastic to be able to see the riders and encourage them. They are very accessible. It will probably only happen once in my life, so I decided to follow the three steps. Like her, another fan of the Grande Boucle, Lars Düwel, followed the entire Danish route, while carefully studying the map: “With my friends, we managed to arrange to see the third stage pass in three different places. We’ve been waiting for this for years and it feels like the whole country has come together to come and watch the stages.”
Despite an extremely dense public, no fall linked to inappropriate behavior of spectators is to be deplored, which makes this Danish escapade a real success according to the director of the Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, at the microphone of franceinfo: “There is an absolutely exceptional passion, enthusiasm and fervor that you look for when you go to a foreign country, especially as far away as Denmark, with a very respectful audience. I have to say it exceeded our expectations”. In 2023, the Grande Boucle will once again experience a relocated Grand Départ, in Bilbao, Spain.