When he crossed the finish line with team mates, side by side, there was barely a dry eye in the whole country. Wiping away tears, competitors, spectators and even TV presenters hugged each other in sheer joy.
Anyone who has visited Denmark will know this is a country with cycling in its blood. Each day, come rain or shine, you’ll see commuters in smart suits, their bags or briefcases in racks or baskets; busy parents steering mighty, kid-filled cargo bikes; and of course, the Lycra-clad contingent, hurtling along roads and cycle lanes on their high-end racing bikes.
And woe betide anyone who carelessly wanders into their path. These two or three-wheeled biking-Vikings will show you a very different side of the usually laid-back Danish character.
Throughout July, cycle-mania gripped the nation as the world’s foremost cycling event – the Tour de France – kept fans enthralled, after a rather wet start in the Danish capital.
News channels interviewed the top riders, the enthusiastic spectators, and pretty much anyone else with something to say about the big event. Danish flags and the inevitable viking helmets popped up in the coverage, with many fans making the pilgrimage to the French mountains to cheer on their heroes.
People snapped selfies with cycling celebs, and local social media feeds were awash with a million cycling-related images and clips.
Denmark, a tiny nation of just 5,5 million people, often punches above its weight when it comes to staging an event. Especially one where they have a stake in the outcome, with a handful of local heroes ready to battle for fame, fortune and that coveted yellow jersey.
Stage 1 of Le Tour, as it is affectionately nicknamed, started out in the picturesque Danish capital of (wonderful) Copenhagen in unseasonably wet weather, before proceeding to the second stage in historic Roskilde, a place loved by history and music fans alike.
The third stage took in another Danish cultural gem, the city of Vejle, where ancient rune stones sit cheek by jowl with 21stcentury architecture.
The Airofit team, no strangers to a bike saddle, joined in the frenzy of activity, mingling with other fans at the pre-event Velo-festival, ready to catch a glimpse of cycling legends and young hopefuls as they sped past.
Denmark goes cucumber for Le Tour
While other countries go bananas for their favorite sports, Denmark has to be different and instead invokes the cucumber – ‘agurk’ – to symbolize temporarily losing one’s mind.
In the 90’s Danish cycling’s popularity was really kick-started by the Tour win and popularity of Bjarne Riis. He beat the legendary Miguel Indurain – who had won the race 5 times in a row – to become a superstar in Denmark.
Jonas Vingegaard, runner-up last time, will now join the ranks of such Danish sporting legends, returning home to legions of adoring fans and countless TV interviews.
In living rooms and bars across the land, oceans of cold beer and mountains of pølser – the famed Danish sausages – were no-doubt consumed during the wall-to-wall TV and social media coverage.
As the riders whizzed by in a blur of multi-colored Lycra and logos, we witnessed the sheer joy and unbridled enthusiasm that cycling invokes in its fans.
The Airofit team, while cheering on our sponsorship partners from team Lotto Soudal, were thrilled to see the young Dane clinch victory this year. His battle with the mighty Slovenian, Tadej Pogačar, made for gripping viewing.
It was not a great Tour for unlucky Lotto Soudal and their star rider Caleb Ewing, and we sincerely hope they will find better fortune in future events.
Le Tour 2022 delivered thrills, spills and lots of great sportsmanship, as Le Tour 2022 exploded into our lives in a blaze of breath, sweat and gears.
A ‘stort tillykke’ to Jonas Vingegaard and his team-mates from Jumbo Visma. It was an inspiring performance, and we’re sure it won’t be the last time Denmark ‘goes agurk’ for this young superstar.