As Jonas Vingegaard sealed Tour de France triumph in Paris this weekend, it completed a 3,328 kilometer journey from Copenhagen to the French capital and, in turn, marked a new era in cycling.
From the gentle rolling hills of Denmark, down the eastern side of France, through the Alps, and into the country’s luscious south, the Tour rolled to a conclusion on the famous Champs-Elysees this weekend, with Vingegaard beating pre-favorite and reigning champion Tadej Pogacar by nearly three minutes in the general classification.
Rewind three-weeks and to a visit to Copenhagen with Canyon to witness this year’s Grand Départ, Denmark’s admiration for cycling was laid bare to see.
While the city’s centre housed this year’s first stage (a 13km time trial course), the rest of Copenhagen went about daily life, but awash with a sense of excitement: bars overflowing, parks packed, and coffee shops rammed, all with a sea of yellow jerseys, polka dot cycling caps, and Danish flags.
Behind the scenes, though, it was a different story. Cross the barrier into the paddocks where the teams were housed, and the raucousness soon turned to focus, as the sport’s biggest event was set to commence.
Frames as light as a feather were being prepared for battle (Canyon’s Aeroad bikes weighed in at 7.4kg), as cyclists themselves prepped, too – both mentally and physically.
For a sport that, from the outside, looks simple (I mean, it’s a bike and some roads), it’s anything but. Large teams of mechanics, directors, nutritionists and more support riders, and on-hand for anything that goes amiss. From punctures and crashes, to hydration and vital in-race instructions, it’s another world completely.
It’s quite fitting that this year’s Grand Départ took place in the Danish capital, some 400km south of Hillerslev, Vingegaard’s birthplace, as he embarked on becoming only Denmark’s second Tour winner in history.
With the Tour de France Femmes kicking off this week – a seven-day women’s-only cycling race that will see over 1,000 kilometers covered across eight stages – for the first time since the late 1980s, this year marks a new era for sport.
And while Vingegaard’s victory is not only a triumph for both him, Team Jumbo–Visma, and Danish cycling, it’s a victory for the cycling on the whole, too.