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SPORT

Denmark celebrates home-grown Tour de France winner Vingegaard

Jonas Vingegaard was crowned Tour de France champion on Sunday after a gruelling 3,350km, 21-stage race, ending a journey which had its roots in the mundane surroundings of a fish factory in his native Denmark.

Denmark celebrates home-grown Tour de France winner Vingegaard
Jonas Vingegaard celebrates on the podium wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey after winning the Tour de France. Photo: Christian Hartmann/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

He follows compatriot Bjarne Riis who won the world’s most famous bike race — although later admitted to doping — in 1996, the year Vingegaard was born.

“Every day was quick, fast, it’s been rough. There has been a lot of attacking. It must have looked good on television,” said the champion.

It is a stunning success for Vingegaard, three weeks after the race pedalled off from Copenhagen for the first of three stages on home ground.

Over 35,000 paying fans had packed into Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens to greet the Tour de France riders before the race.

When it came to the turn of Dutch outfit Jumbo Visma, a roar went up which seemed to overwhelm the 25-year-old co-captain of the team, a quiet, unassuming rider.

Fighting back tears, Vingegaard looked far from a future champion of one of sport’s most difficult endurance tests.

On the opening day time-trial, a wall of sound reverberated around Copenhagen, as their home hope’s progress was tracked along the downtown route.

While much of the rest of the world was unaware of Vingegaard, the man from northern Jutland was already a household name at home.

That was not only because of his cycling skills, but his mother-in-law who shot to national celebrity after competing on the Great Danish Bake Off show, and also featured on Denmark’s version of Dancing with the Stars.

Vingegaard was born in December 1996 and raised in Hillerslev, a fishing village of just 370 inhabitants, in a completely flat landscape on the shores of the North Sea.

Denmark’s previous Tour winner Riis was born in Herning, around 100km from Hillerslev.

As a child, Vingegaard played handball and football before turning to cycling after watching the Tour of Denmark pass close to his home.

With his slender frame and the windy flatlands of Denmark, his staggering climbing skills were yet to be revealed.

He joined Colo-Quick, a continental Tour team, at 19 and worked in a fish business in the mornings before training.

“I had to get up early, but it gave me something to do, and I wasn’t sure if I would become a professional cyclist,” Vingegaard said.

It was at Colo-Quick that he met his partner Trine Hansen, a marketing manager who is nine years his senior, with the couple having a young daughter Frida.

“He told me he was going to be a banker, and I thought I’d be a banker’s wife,” Hansen said this week.

Vingegaard joined Jumbo in 2019, where he says he “learned to cycle”.

He came to prominence at last year’s Tour de France, where riding under the radar he suddenly found himself team leader when Primoz Roglic crashed out, finishing second.

Shy and retiring, he refuses nearly all television engagements, relying on Trine to front the family image while he gets on with the cycling.

He relentlessly thanks her when interviewed, speaking of “his two girls at home” being the rocks of his life.

After meeting French President Emmanuel Macron following stage 18, Vingegaard was stunned.

“He knew my name,” said Vingegaard who admits he has had problems in the past with self-confidence.

On this Tour, he bettered two-time defending champion Tadej Pogacar on both the toughest mountain stages to clinch the champion’s yellow jersey that will make him a hero in his homeland.

“I don’t know how this will affect our lives, but I grew up somehow,” said Vingegaard. “But I feel better than ever”.

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MONEY

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.

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