As with the previous couple of years, I will write a post grouping key stages together (rather than doing each one on its own as I did the summer I was out of work!).
It feels right to cluster the whole of the Grand Depart together and to talk Denmark in totality with the massive pile of positives (experiences not doping tests) to take out of it.
Whilst on the subject of doping there was a lot of pre-race nosing into the business of Bahrain-Victorious but as of yet there is nothing concrete to report on the team or its riders. As Groupama-FDJ rider Stefan Kung said, the authorities either need to charge them or apologise for picking on them. Let’s leave that there…
The first stage time trial produced a major upset. Despite most of the other Specialized riders wearing a funny bank robber snood as part of their new helmets, it was standard lid wearer Yves Lampaert who put the other favourites in their place with a great win.
Lampaert was nervy watching the remaining riders finish before producing what on day 1 will be the quote of the race in relation to his ascent to the yellow jersey.
“I am just a farmer son from Belgium”
After trying to for years to land a big win in the Flemish classics, it was a tour time trial that thrust Lampaert into the spotlight. Irony.
The first road stage saw the “Grand Belt” bridge take star billing. Will it ever be as iconic as a strip of cobbles or mountain pass?
Probably not. It also didn’t have the impact that the Passage des Gois seems to have when that coastal route is used, mainly as the wind didn’t blow.
After a length break including home rider Magnus Cort Nielsen hoovering up all of the King of the Mountains points the race was together hitting the bridge.
There was a crash involving the yellow jersey and within the 3km limit which held up defending champion Tadej Pogacar but in the main it was fairly standard stuff.
Fabio Jakobsen kept up the 100% record of Quickstep winning the opening two stages ending his journey back to success following his Polish crash 18 months ago.
Cort took his chance again on stage 3, heading off alone to take some king of the mountains points but finding no other riders willing to join him.
He had a brilliant day out in his homeland taking a heroes welcome in each town and village. In fact there barely looked a spot on the side of the road all weekend with people lined up to see the race everywhere.
It was one of, if not, the best Grand Depart I can remember.
There was a crash outside the 3km limit which saw a few riders ship time but a sprint was pretty much guaranteed. This time it was Dylan Groenewegen who had his turn at redemption (also as a result of the Tour of Poland crash) winning from Wout Van Aert who has been in second place in each of the stages so far.
The race had an early break yesterday heading back to its homeland from Denmark ready for some tough looking northern French stages starting today.