Topography of its territory obliges, the Dane has a certain conception of the mountain. So, this Sunday, July 3, for the 3rd stage of the Tour de France, the public took out the chalk – as is the custom of supporters in the Alpine or Pyrenean passes – in the three difficulties listed for the classification of the best climber. In the fourth category, we must not exaggerate either.
When you know that the Hejlsminde Strand coast is actually an 800 meter climb, you’re not really surprised to find the colorful asphalt on almost all of the 182 kilometers traveled between Vejle and Sonderborg, via Haderslev self-proclaimed “city sausages “. Nor to learn that the only two local riders to have worn the best climber’s polka dot jersey in the last ten years are Michael Morkov and Magnus Cort Nielsen… more like sprinters.
This Sunday, as usual, the former focused on his role as pilot fish for Fabio Jakobsen, the designated favorite after his victory on Saturday. But sprinting is delicate clockwork. Even for the Quick-Step. “We had done everything well until this last corner, explains Florian Sénéchal, in charge of bringing the Dutchman between the red flame and the last 500 meters. But when I turn around, Fabio was no longer there. It’s like that. Sometimes you have to slam on the brakes and you lose ten places. It’s the Tour and everyone wants to beat us. »
Ironically, the winner of the day is another Dutchman. And not just any. The name of Dylan Groenewegen has been associated since August 2020 with the terrible fall of the same Jakobsen on the Tour of Poland, for which he was suspended for nine months. The BikeExchange Jayco rider is one wheel ahead of Wout van Aert, yellow jersey and compulsive collector of second places on this Tour. “I like to win races, and when I’m so close to victory as I have been the last three days, it’s a bit frustrating,” sighs the Belgian from Jumbo-Visma.
“I really had a blast”
A finding contrary to that of Magnus Cort Nielsen who may have finished 156th, 3 min 25 s from the winner, but who also raised his arms on the line, all smiles under his famous blonde bacchante. The EF Education Easy-Post runner sums up his day at the microphone of France 2: “I really had a blast. It was just euphoria. Unbelievable. »
Determined to honor his best climber’s jersey, the Dane said to himself that before seeing the Tour caravan pack up in the direction of Dunkirk (North), he might as well go get the three small points at stake in the mountain classification. As soon as the start was given, he left. All alone. And drove a long time. Not far from 140 km. With a good part of the population of the kingdom present to applaud him as he passes, like a crown prince.
Since the start of this Tour, Magnus Cort Nielsen has fled the peloton: he is already almost 7 hours into the breakaway. “It’s really something special to open the road on the Tour de France, said Cyril Barthe (B
A popular success worthy of London in 2007
The organizers had promised that this Danish escapade would be one of borders and fervor. If we did not have the first, the second jumped out at the eyes and eardrums of the follower. By 9:30 a.m., some Danes had set up camp on the side of the road, in Kolding, where the peloton was not expected until five hours later. On this relatively sunny Sunday – the rain only started ten minutes before the finish – there were thousands of them on the way to the Tour.
Something to bring back memories to the “dean” of this edition, the Belgian Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal), twelve Tour de France on the clock: “It made me think of 2007 and the start in London. Here it was very impressive. Almost as if there was half the country on the side of the road. »
The 182 kilometers of the route took on the air of a giant festival between the barnums set up in the middle of the villages, the thousand and one picnic tables more or less well laid out – some with a cloth tablecloth and stemmed glasses –, or even the agricultural trailers and other containers transformed into stands. The front of the Osterso hotel located by the sea in the municipality of Aabenraa has been entirely painted yellow, while here and there have grown houses with red polka dots, a nod to the jersey of the best climber. “We worked hard, huh,” laughed this Dane.
In the last hour of the race, the peloton decided to take second. Too bad, he missed the classical music concert given in the middle of the fields about twenty kilometers from the finish. The violins and basses are now put away, like the bikes of the riders ready to take one of the four planes chartered by the Tour management.
Head to Lille-Lesquin airport for a 900 kilometer flight. After a day of transition, the Dunkirk-Calais stage (171 km) will mark the French debut of this 2022 Tour. his “beautiful French champion jersey”. Even more in his native North.