Thousands of cycling fans in Copenhagen for Tour de France departure

Fans packed downtown Copenhagen ahead of the Tour de France's Grand Depart on Friday where Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik had promised to watch from in front of the royal palace, while over a billion television viewers are expected to tune in over the three weeks.

Tour de France 2022 spectators
Tour de France 2022 spectators at Amalienborg, in Copenhagen. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Storm clouds were gathering and rain could make the 13.2km opening stage time-trial route treacherous.

The 176 riders will hit speeds of up to 60kph as they ride past sights including the Little Mermaid statue, the harbour-front Blox building and the Amalienborg palace.

The showpiece opener is a showdown between cycling’s top time-trial specialists, Italian Filippo Ganna of Ineos Grenadiers and Belgian superstar Wout van Aert of Jumbo-Visma.

The pair leave the starter ramp consecutively at 5:04pm and 5:05pm local time.

Riders compete on specialised bikes for the time-trial and wear tailored aerodynamic outfits that cost up to and above 4,000 euros.

Frenchman Jeremy Lecroq will be the first man down the ramp at 4pm outside the Tivoli theme park, next to Copenhagen’s eye-catching central train station.

Van Aert, winner of a time-trial, a sprint and a mountain stage at the 2021 Tour, was excited after two editions impacted by Covid-19.

“I was surprised by the amount of people on the roadsides. After two years, we can finally have a Grand Depart with huge crowds,” he said.

Overall race favourite and two-time defending champion Tadej Pogacar was impressed by the rapturous reception the Tour received on Wednesday.

“I’m ready personally and my team is ready too, and you can only be happy with the kind of reception we have had here,” said the UAE Team Emirates leader.

Around a dozen riders scheduled to race have tested positive for Covid and been replaced, although none of them were among the favourites.

French climbing specialist Romain Bardet said he felt panic when he boarded his flight to Copenhagen and realised few people were wearing masks. Dutch sprinter Dylan Groenewegen avoided the issue by travelling by campervan.

The sport’s greatest race attracts up to 15 million roadside fans per year and the opening three days in cycling-obsessed Denmark on the 109th edition will provide the same festive atmosphere so beloved by the French.

Saturday’s second stage runs 202.5km from Roskilde to Nyborg along roads adjacent to fjords and culminates with a 20km crossing of the Great Belt Bridge.

Sunday’s final day in Denmark is a 182km run from Vejle to Sønderborg.


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Danish tax minister wants to ban celebrities from gambling ads

Tax minister Jeppe Bruus says he wants to put an end to celebrity appearances in commercials for betting companies.

Danish tax minister wants to ban celebrities from gambling ads

High-profile Danes such as Game of Thrones actor Pilou Asbæk and former national team footballer Brian Laudrup have appeared in betting ads, a practice the country’s tax minister said he wants to stop.

In a social media post, Bruus said he wants to forbid “famous sportspeople and other authorities” from appearing in betting ads.

“We must protect our children and young people from betting. Many children and young people get into financial difficulties because of gambling. That trend must be reversed,” he wrote.

In comments to broadcaster TV2 News on Monday evening, Bruus said that the government will this week begin negotiations with other parties over new measures that can help reduce gambling addiction.

A tax ministry report, published earlier this year, showed that just under 480,000 people aged between 18 and 79 in Denmark experience gambling problems in 2021. The number is twice as high as in 2016.

Last month, Bruus said he wants to ban betting commercials for 15 minutes before and after sports broadcasts on television.

“The most important thing is that we stop the mixing together of betting advertisements and sport on television. A football match is covered in adverts before, during and after. That must be forbidden,” the minister said.