The 2022 Grand Départ was an exceptional advert for taking the Tour de France on the road, although the racing is yet to explode
Words Will Strickson Photos Pete Goding
You’ve woken up from a troubled slumber after tossing and turning in excitement all night, and the day has finally arrived. Presents, family, celebrations and funny little hats.
No, it’s not Christmas. It’s better: it’s the Tour de France.
The biggest event in cycling has begun once more, with the 2022 Grand Départ having taken place in Denmark. Three stages starting with a time-trial in the capital Copenhagen before two flat stages finished things off and gifted the peloton an early rest day. Sorry, ‘travel day’.
The fans were out in huge numbers reminiscent of the Yorkshire Grand Départ in 2014. Rapturous applause and chants for Danish riders drew emotional scenes and memories that will last generations for those involved.
Before we head to northern France on Tuesday, here are our highlights from the opening three stages of the Tour de France from the lens of Pete Goding.
Stage 1: Not just a farmer’s son
Stage 1 was an individual time-trial around the streets of Copenhagen and it absolutely chucked it down. Although conditions were rough, it was pretty much the same for everyone, so all the favourites were still the favourites, just wet ones.
Fans went to long lengths to be able to actually see the action, as the entire 13.2km course was rammed.
Geraint Thomas accidentally left his gilet on. Oops.
Ineos Grenadiers’ riders were sporting enormous TT helmets with interesting-looking visors. Filippo Ganna’s ride was apparently marred by a puncture.
Wout van Aert beat Ganna by five seconds and looked to have wrapped up the stage with an enormous effort.
Tadej Pogačar came in fastest of the GC contenders. As if he needed a head start.
QuickStep Alpha Vinyl’s Yves Lampaert shocked them all though and beat Van Aert by five seconds, and was very emotional on the podium and in his interview.
This is how he did it.
Stage 2: Bridging the gap
Stage 2 was a flat stage from Roskilde – of music festival fame – to Nyborg, across the 18km Great Belt Bridge.
It was billed as a day for crosswinds because of that, and the peloton were readying themselves for it, but it was never enough in the right direction and it came down to a sprint.
The breakaway was doomed from the start but lit up the three categorised hills for the race’s first polka dot jersey, promptly sewn up by Dane Magnus Cort, which he and the crowds loved.
Danish fans, again, turned up in big numbers and with style.
Though not completely to Chris Froome’s liking.
Where was Cavendish?
…replaced by the day’s stage winner, the inspirational Fabio Jakobsen.
Wout came second (again) but took Lampaert’s yellow jersey with bonus seconds.
Magnus Cort got the job done for Denmark.
Stage 3: Denmark is flat
Stage 3 didn’t even pretend, it was a sprint stage from the moment it was announced.
Only one rider went in the breakaway: Magnus Cort. In the polka dots. In his native Denmark. Glorious.
What a day for him.
More pictures of incredible fans.
You’d have thought EF Education-EasyPost had won a stage by the amount of exposure they get their sponsors. Here’s Rigoberto Uran blending in.
Insert clever comment about reflections.
While Jakobsen completed a monumetal comeback from his horror crash on Stage 2, the man that caused it, Dylan Groenewegen, completed a comeback of his own, winning Stage 3. It hasn’t been easy for him mentally since the crash, and you could tell by his disbelief.
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