Copenhagen – the city often described as the world’s cycling capital – is bidding to host the Grand Départ of the Tour de France. Staging the city would help showcase the bicycle as a means of transport, say politicians, although distance would create a logistical hurdle.
A successful bid would make the Danish capital the most northerly starting location for the race, with the city aiming to welcome the Tour de France during the period 2019-21.
Denmark has already hosted the start of one of cycling’s three Grand Tours, with the Giro d’Italia starting in Herning, while Copenhagen itself staged the road world championships in 2011.
The city’s official candidature for the Grand Depart was unveiled in Paris at the Maison du Danemark cultural centre, appropriately situated on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées which since 1975 has played host to the final stage of the race.
Race director Christian Prudhomme said: “We are proud to receive Copenhagen's official candidature, which underlines the attraction that the Tour can have outside of France.
“Showcasing the Tour abroad is to also showcase France. Of course, it would be a huge challenge because it would be the northernmost start in the Tour's history.”
Leeds in 2014 is furthest north the race has begun, with the issue of how best to get the race back to France after the opening two days in Yorkshire resolved by having a third stage from Cambridge to London.
The distance between Denmark and France however means that an extra rest day would almost certainly be needed after the opening three days to allow for the transfer – something the Giro d’Italia did in 2012, and again when it began in Ireland in 2014 and in the Netherlands last month.
“Copenhagen is known around the world as a cycling city and the Tour is one of the most liked sporting events among Danes,” said the city’s mayor Frank Jensen.
“This would be a unique opportunity to show off our country and to encourage the rest of the world to take up cycling.”
The proposed programme would see a 10 kilometre individual time trial followed by two flat stages on the Danish archipelago, with finishes at Odense and Sonderborg, with echelons likely as a result of the exposed terrain, which would make for thrilling racing.
Denmark’s minister of trade and growth, Troels Lund Poulsen, said that hosting the race could help highlight the importance of the bicycle as a means of transport.
“Denmark has a lot to offer the Tour de France,” he said. “This is a cycling nation and we could show how cycling plays a major role in our daily lives.
“The stages we have planned will also offer a sumptuous backdrop for the peloton and television viewers, between historic cities and emblematic landmarks," he added.
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