Cycling is coming home? Copenhagen prepares for the Grand Departure of the Tour de France

Cycling Copenhagen is getting ready to host the world’s most famous cycling race.

Tour de France will begin in the Danish capital on Friday, the spectacle is scheduled here for 2021 but has been postponed due to the COVID pandemic.

“Truly amazing to welcome the world’s greatest cycling race!” Lord Mayor of Copenhagen Sophie Hestorp Andersen told Euronews.

“For us, the Tour de France is a great opportunity to further promote the famous Danish cycling culture and inspire everyone to ride a bike, not a car.

“Because for Danes and Copenhageners, cycling is not just a sport. It’s a way of life and we’re proud to be called the best cycling city in the world.”

A total of 176 athletes will drive along the roads of Copenhagen and its surroundings for 13 kilometers, crossing city streets and waterways, past royal palaces and parks in front of thousands of cheering spectators.

hard work begins on the second day with a 199 km journey from Roskilde to Nyborg; This is followed by the third day, when riders leave the town of Vejle for the 182 km route to Sønderborg.

“I’m really looking forward to the whole city coming together around the Tour. I’ve been counting the days and now we’re so close! I can’t wait to see the riders in the city. I watched the Tour de France on TV and whenever I get a chance I ride my bike myself,” said Höstorp Andersen.

In particular, Copenhagen makes the most of this moment in the spotlight of the cycling world. Locals watched as some popular landmarks were painted yellow in homage to the yellow jerseys the race leaders received.

The Fun Park will show the progress of the Tour riders on giant screens, and amateur cyclists will be able to try out the Copenhagen route for themselves the day after the official race, as the Danish capital extends the celebrations until the weekend from “cycling festival“It is expected to attract 20,000 people.

“Copenhagen is so ready that the whole city is already buzzing with enthusiasm. Bike lanes have been painted the iconic yellow, flags have been hung along the route, and our stores have adorned their windows with Tour de France merchandise,” a company spokesperson said. Mayor.

Cycling is coming home

If you think there’s a certain feeling in Copenhagen that “cycling is coming home” – to borrow the phrase – in Copenhagen, then you’re right.

The Danes have long supported cycling, with over 400 km of cycle paths in Copenhagen alone; a “green wave” lighting system that allows cyclists to travel at a constant speed and never stop at traffic lights, as long as they accurately time their trips on popular routes; and trash cans on the sides of bike lanes at an angle to oncoming cyclists.

The city even has its own term in urban planning: “Copenhagenize” means to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists over vehicles.

“Danish mentality: we like to be independent, but we still like to socialize together. It is a small country, small distances, you don’t have mountains. really good way to get around,” said Jens Peter Hansen, President Danish Cycling Federation.

The Copenhagen authorities are putting their money into what they say, having spent more than 100 million euros over the past 15 years on the development of two-wheeled transport: 12 “motorways” reserved exclusively for cyclists and five special bridges – and about 15% of all travel in the Scandinavian nation is made on a bike.

“Many people in Denmark are taking responsibility for themselves and their health, as well as the climate. That’s why we ride bikes,” Hansen said.

Cheaper than public transport

The Grand Départ on Friday marks the northernmost stage of the Tour de France ever, partly a reward for the passion the Danes show every year in their enthusiasm for the competition.

In the capital, they estimate pedal power saves one million days of downtime and saves more than 130 million euros annually.

“It’s much cheaper than public transport than renting a car or owning a car, and on top of that, you also get around a lot faster. So in every way it’s good for you, it’s cheap, it’s fast,” says Mads. a local resident who rides a bicycle.

According to the advertising organization Cycling Embassythe incidence of morbidity in adults who use bicycles daily is 30% lower than in non-cyclists.

However, Danes have been cycling for less than 20 years and the authorities are hoping to reverse that trend with the Tour.

“I think it’s so inspiring that the world’s greatest cycling race is taking place here…when we see professional cyclists, little kids want to get on their bikes too,” says Copenhagen Mayor Hestorp Andersen.

“Copenhagen is so ready that the whole city is already buzzing with enthusiasm.”