Denmark will become the tenth country to host the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in 2021. The first three stages of the 108th edition of the race will take place in Copenhagen and the southern part of the country. A hundred years after the inaugural edition of the (amateur) World Cycling Championships and a decade after hosting the Worlds for the sixth time, the Danish capital and most bicycle-friendly city in the world will set the scene for the most famous cycling race on Earth.
"Some encounters seem so obvious. The greatest cycling race in the world naturally has the vocation to go to the country, Denmark, and the city, Copenhagen, that offer to every day life bicycling its largest place. Nine Danes out of ten own a bicycle that they use on a daily basis and it is for instance on bikes that close to a child out of two goes to school.
The riders of the Tour, most popular users on the cycling planet, will therefore find in July 2021 huge amounts of supporters throughout the country that share the same passion. The oldest in the peloton witnessed, ten years ago, the joy of meeting them during the road World Championships that had revealed to many the magnitude of that popularity. That link with the elite of world cycling had however already started strongly on the occasion of the very first World Championships, amateur at the time, back in… 1921!
History now awaits a new golden generation including the likes of Michael Valgren, Søren Kragh Andersen, Mads Pedersen or Magnus Cort Nielsen riding in the wheel of Jakob Fuglsang and they could shine as soon as the early days of this 108th edition. If such is the case, this Grand Départ, the northernmost one in the history of the Tour de France could also become the craziest one."
Queen: Margrethe II
Royal motto: God’s help, the people’s love, Denmark’s strength
Surface: 43 098 km² (2 220 000 km² including Groenland og and the Faroe Islands)
Population: 5 900 000 inhabitants
Capitale: Copenhagen (613 000 inhabitants and over 2-million with outskirts)
Currency: Danish krone
Danish sports legends: Allan Simonsen (football, Ballon d’or France Football in 1977), Michael Laudrup (football), Mikkel Hansen (handball), Thomas Bjørn (golf), Caroline Wozniacki (tennis), Peter Gade (badminton), Kamilla Rytter Juhl (badminton)
Copenhagen is home to more bicycles than people. The city that has integrated cycling into its daily life better than any other place in the world is a natural fit for the biggest cycling race on Earth. The Tour de France will head to Denmark in 2021 for the northernmost Grand Départ yet. A time trial through the heart of the Danish capital will kick off the race's Nordic adventure. The next stage will give riders and viewers alike the opportunity to discover the island of Zealand and take the 18 km Great Belt Bridge that will take them to Nyborg on the island of Funen. The visit to Denmark will come to an end on the Jutland peninsula on the mainland with a sprinter-friendly romp between Vejle and Sønderborg. A generation of riders such as Michael Valgren, Søren Kragh Andersen, Mads Pedersen and Magnus Cort Nielsen will fight for their chance on home turf.
Danish stages of the 2021 Tour de France:
Stage 1: Copenhagen (ITT), 13 km
The Danish capital already holds a sensational record as a five-time host of the pro world cycling championships. The pancake-flat course through its historical heart is ideal for stellar performances and could set the scene for another record. Queen Louise's Bridge, known as the busiest bike path in the world, will clean the deck for a day to launch the champions on a circuit on which riders will blast past landmarks such as the Tivoli Gardens and salute the Little Mermaid with their powerful pedal strokes.
Stage 2: Roskilde > Nyborg, 190 km
Roskilde's strategic location made it the Danish capital for centuries. Its cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses the tombs of Danish monarchs. Since the 1970s, the city has also been known for its festival, which features the greatest stars of rock and pop. However, the riders of the Tour will have to be on high alert to survive the wind-battered course, especially the 18-kilometre stretch on the Baltic coastline: an epic battle awaits! From there, it is just three kilometres to the finish in Nyborg, famous for its medieval castle. This stage will certainly take its toll!
Stage 3: Vejle > Sønderborg, 170 km
The final Danish stage of the Tour will visit part of the Jutland peninsula starting from Vejle, a town nestled at the bottom of the fjord of the same name. The peloton will get to admire two UNESCO World Heritage Sites —the Jelling Runic Stones and Christiansfeld, a town founded as a colony of the Moravian Church— as well as Gråsten Palace. Riders will then focus on the finish in the port town of Sønderborg, where a bunch sprint is the most likely outcome. The first rest day is scheduled after these three intense stages to give riders and their followers the chance to catch their breath.
Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Prime minister of Denmark: "I am both very happy and very proud that the Tour de France is coming to Denmark. Denmark is one of the greatest cycling nations in the world, so to be able to welcome the best bike riders in the world and host the world's most iconic cycling race is an honour and a privilege. The Danes are more than ready to host one of the greatest sporting events in the world. I really look forward to the summer of 2021".
Franck Jensen, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen: “It is a tremendous honour for Copenhagen to host the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in 2021: the best cycling city in the world welcomes the greatest cycling race in the world. The Grand Départ in 2021 will be the biggest sport event in Denmark ever. We will use this unique opportunity to celebrate the Tour de France and our unique bicycle culture with the rest of the world."
Rasmus Jarlov, Minister of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs of Denmark: "I am very excited about getting the Tour de France to Denmark. This will be a huge celebration for all of Denmark and for cycling fans all over the world. And it will be a great opportunity for us to show to the world what Denmark has to offer in terms of beautiful scenery, historic sights, our unique cycling culture, our life style, smart city solutions and so much more. It is an amazing branding opportunity for Denmark and I very much look forward to July 2021."
Christian Prudhomme, Director of Tour de France: "The Tour de France is the biggest cycling race on Earth, but we still have much to learn! The Danes set an outstanding example by making bicycles their leading means of transport in urban areas. In Copenhagen, we will meet fans who acclaim the champions of world cycling. The energy that supporters and curious locals will channel to riders, followers and viewers of the Tour will most assuredly be a great source of inspiration to succeed in our greatest challenge: seeing the future on a bike."