the Tour de France can start

NOS Cycling

Danish evening sun, happy faces and tears of happiness: the Tour can begin

Tonight the 21 cycling teams of the Tour de France were presented in Tivoli, the fairytale park in the center of the Danish capital. A festive presentation for thousands of enthusiastic Danes. Radiant faces, not a cross word. And a single tear.

But it was also searching for absentees on stage, because corona is once again going wild. Top favorite Tadej Pogacar will have to miss Matteo Trentin in the difficult first week. Omer Goldstein and Samuele Battistella can also put an end to their Tour. Daryl Impey and Bob Jungels are still in the waiting room.

The Tour cannot start soon enough, that much is clear. Friday is the first leg.

Popular Van der Poel is aiming for yellow again

Mathieu van der Poel is there. The trendsetter of contemporary cycling was received with loud applause. And if it’s up to MvdP, the fans have a lot of good things to look forward to.

Last year on his debut, he won the second stage and then wore the yellow jersey for six days. He now envisions such a scenario again. “The yellow in the time trial is too ambitious”, thinks Van der Poel. “But I will go full throttle and try to limit the damage so that maybe in the days after that I can do something.”

Watch interviews with Mathieu van der Poel and Bauke Mollema below.

  • Van der Poel starts in a supersonic suit, but: ‘Yellow is too ambitious in the time trial’

  • Brand new time trial champion Mollema is looking forward to 12th Tour: ‘Have nothing to lose’

However, the red-white-blue will be worn on Friday by Bauke Mollema, who immediately became Dutch time trial champion at the age of 34 on his first attempt. “Friday will be very difficult, you know, against all those men”, he laughs away the suggestion of a stunt in the opening time trial. “But I’m really looking forward to this Tour. My goal is to win a stage.”

Groenewegen came with the camper

Dylan Groenewegen also goes for stage victories. He already has four on his record, the last in the Tour of 2019. During the 2020 edition, Groenewegen was at home, suspended for his role in the sprint accident with Fabio Jakobsen.

Now he’s back, in his own way. “I went with the camper. It’s just very busy at Schiphol. There was a line of three and a half hours on the day I had to fly. My father went with the camper anyway, so I thought: I’ll get in the back and have a good time lying there on the bed.”

Groenewegen avoided flight crowds and drove to Copenhagen with a camper: ‘Looking for beautiful duels’

This year Groenewegen (now in Australian service) and Jakobsen will cross swords on the highest podium, starting this weekend in Denmark. Earlier this week, it turned out that there was still a lot of old pain at Jakobsen, who has not yet received an apology from his rival.

“I am very happy that we are both here again. I hope that we can fight beautiful duels, in a sporty way,” says Groenewegen. “But then we will also have to beat Caleb Ewan and Jasper Philipsen.”

thundercloud

The enchanting festival atmosphere under a beautiful Danish evening sun leaves you wanting more. But in the background there was also that threatening thunder cloud: corona. “Of course everyone is afraid”, Dylan van Baarle does not ignore the hot mess. “There’s a lot at stake, of course.”

Steven Kruijswijk is also concerned. It was announced today that the sporting director of Jumbo-Visma, Merijn Zeeman, will not join the Tour team for the time being due to a corona infection.

“You do what you can to protect yourself,” says Kruijswijk. “But it will be very difficult if the measures around you are less. That makes you very nervous, especially in the run-up to the tests on the rest days.”

Watch interviews with Dylan van Baarle and Steven Kruijswijk below.

  • Corona worries Van Baarle: ‘Of course everyone is afraid, there is a lot at stake’

  • Kruijswijk knows his job, but fears corona: ‘Fingers crossed and hope we make it to Paris’

Kruijswijk: “Just like everyone else, we are done with it. In normal life you can continue if you are positive. But we can simply be taken off course.”

Tears at Vingegaard

The highlight of the evening were the tears of Jonas Vingegaard, who was cheered the longest and loudest. The Danish number two of the past year was overcome with emotion at the sight of that massive support.

“Nice to see what it does to such a boy”, said team mate Kruijswijk, who was on the podium with him. “He knows that he is one of the favorites for this Tour. And then so much support from the home front, that’s very nice.”

But who is now the leader of Jumbo-Visma this Tour? Leader-on-paper Primoz Roglic didn’t hesitate for a second: “Vingegaard!” That will be three very nice weeks. If the peloton stays ahead of the corona ghost, that is.