Well then, the Tour of Denmark has gone mental! We still have a few familiar stages, with a 12.2km ITT and the circuit in Vejle, but this year we have two incredibly long stages, one of which features 18.2km of gravel. You heard me right, gravel! Not only that, but there should be a fair amount of rain and wind, it could be an edition to remember. One thing to note is the position of the intermediate sprints, three out of the four road stages have an early sprint. In a race likely to be decided by a small margin, it’s possible for someone with a fast sprint to get some crucial bonus seconds without too much effort.
Just announced today is the return to racing for Egan Bernal, what a moment for the young man considering his serious accident in January. We’ll all be delighted to see him back in the peloton again.
The race begins with a 222km sprint stage, most of which will be raced into a headwind. It’s a nailed-on sprint and a chance to see if Olav Kooij can beat Jasper Philipsen.
A big day in the GC battle with a 12.2km ITT. There’s a technical section between km 2 and 5, but the rest of it is straightforward and suits the specialists.
Almost 240km, that’s a hell of a long day in the saddle. It currently looks like a crosswind for much of the day, and we’ve got some gravel too. There are 8 sectors totalling 18.2km of the rough stuff, and the roads look tough to me. Obviously, this is another big day in the GC battle.
A standard sprint stage, but not if the wind blows. Much of the day is spent on exposed roads, perfect for echelons if the wind is strong enough.
The race ends with the usual circuit in Vejle, featuring the wall climb that guarantees exciting racing. Luckily for us watching the stage, Remco isn’t here this year.
Ineos – they arrive with three options for the win: Thomas, Sheffield, and Kwiatkowski. Thomas is coming to the end of his block; he’ll be getting tired and might not be able to perform at his very best. Kwiatkowski hasn’t raced since the Dauphiné, he’s bound to be a little rusty, so I think I’m saying that Magnus Sheffield should be their best shot. The youngster produced a brilliant TT in Poland, if he does something similar in the second stage, he could be in the race lead. The gravel sectors won’t bother him, he was excellent on cobbles earlier in the season, so it could be all down to how he performs on the wall climb in Vejle. Ineos have a wonderful record in stage races, they’ll be favourites to take home the win.
Magnus Cort – had a brilliant Tour de France but had to abandon the race after catching COVID. He returned to racing in Getxo, and didn’t have the best of days, but he’ll be much better with that race in the legs. Being his home race, Cort will be highly motivated to perform well, and the route is a good one for him. The TT will be important, he’s good in this discipline, but can be a little inconsistent. If he can finish around the same time as the best, he’ll be all set for a big push for the overall title.
Christophe Laporte – one of the riders of the season, hopefully he can continue to improve as the year goes on. This is a good race for him, he’ll love the final stage. Like most riders, they key will be the TT, he needs to stay close to the best riders. With the chance of picking up bonus seconds throughout the week, he’ll start as one of the main favourites.
Søren Kragh – I won’t go as far as to say the last two seasons have been a disaster, but it’s not far off. He’s still been able to produce some good results, but Kragh is capable of so much more. His move to Alpecin looks a good one, I’m excited to see him back to his best and winning races. Just like the other Danes, he’s going to be super motivated for this race, hopefully he can pull a result out of the bag.
Mattias Skjelmose – I still don’t know how he didn’t win the Tour de l’Ain. He’s certainly in great form just now, and he should be one of the main contenders for the win. Trek-Segafredo arrive with a strong team, Stuyven and Simmons are also excellent GC options. The team will see where everyone is after the TT and gravel stage, before deciding on how to approach the final stage.
Mauro Schmid – I expect him to be in the top 10, but given the level of riders already mentioned, it’s going to be hard for him to challenge for the podium.
It looks like a battle between Jumbo-Visma and Ineos to me. The TT will be important, but as it’s only 12.2km, the time gaps shouldn’t be too big between the best riders. With so many seconds available at intermediate sprints, and on the finishing line, I’ll take a win for Christophe Laporte.