Copenhagen: the Tour de France's ride through history

Get set for this year's Grand Départ in Denmark and immerse yourself in the cycling city

Denmark and France flags on straw bales
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Tour de France gets underway on Friday. Denmark is all set to play host for the opening three stages generating a lot of excitement in Copenhagen, the city of cycling and the place where bikes outnumber cars by five to one.

The city has been home to the kings of Denmark for centuries. All eyes will be on the opening time trial, with crowds waiting to see who will take the top step of the podium and be anointed king for the day in the races first Maillot Jaune (yellow jersey) in this famous capital city. 

Here at Cycling Weekly we’ve been inspired by the marvellous work of Rasmus Nowak Franklin (@NowakFranklin_) on Twitter. Rasmus has compiled a masterful series of tweets highlighting all the wonderful historical stories that København has to offer. If you’re lucky enough to be in Denmark for the start of the race, make sure to check out his journey round the capital city and enjoy the highlights on your way. 

Did you know that the racing action will begin alongside the city’s ancient walls? After the end of absolutism in Denmark and the dawn of democracy, the walls were torn down to mark the arrival of the Danish constitution named “Grundloven” and so began the expansion of the heavily-populated city. 

As the likes of Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič line up on the starting ramp of the time trial, they will be able to glance to their right into the hilly Ørstedsparken. Just one of a series of parks that the capital has to offer. Perhaps the two Slovenians, and favourites for the race, will enjoy a stroll around the park, gathering their thoughts before action gets underway. 

Although it’s hard to imagine either enjoying a Smørrebrød (a Danish open sandwich) beforehand, they’ll save the delicacies for the spectators. The park was named after brothers H.S and A.S Ørste, the former a famed Danish physicist. 

As the riders proceed around the course, they’ll speed down the avenue, Øster Allé, past the Parken Stadium the home of F.C. København and the Danish national football team. This was where Brentford footballer, Christian Eriksen, suffered a heart attack during a Euro 2020 match. With the lack of football action in July, perhaps we’ll see a sea of København fans cheering the riders along as the Carlsberg flows freely. 

As well as beautiful parks, football stadiums and other significant monuments, the race will pass multiple sites where the Danish King’s Guard fought with opposing forces during the second World War. Denmark was occupied until May 1945. 

Yellow bike

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Further along the course, the riders will eventually pass the two main buildings that form Denmark’s ‘epicentre of power’. Christiansborg and Børsen. Christiansborg has been the centre of power  in Denmark since the 1100’s and multiple castles have been built on the current buildings site.

Currently the home of the Danish parliament, the castle has also played host to television film crews as a key filming location in hit Danish TV show, Borgen. Keep your eyes peeled for a Filippo Ganna  shaped blur passing across your screens in a future series.

Ride out west

That’s far from all of the cultural delight that will come out of the Tour de France visiting Denmark. Stage two begins in Roskilde, home of one of the largest music festivals in Europe and the largest festival in the Nordics. 

Beginning in the 1970s, Roskilde Festival has a long track record of attracting some of the biggest names in the business including Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones. This year’s festival finishes on Saturday, the day the riders roll out of town heading for Nyborg.

Sadly any fans of the Strokes among the peloton will miss out on the delights of the Brooklyn band. The indie group headline on Saturday evening and even the most accommodating of sports directors is unlikely to permit a mad two-wheeled dash, back to catch them. 

Those riders and cycling fans who enjoy ‘swotting up’ on their grand tour journey will be all ears at the news that the race crosses an 18 kilometre bridge on the way into Nyborg. The ‘Great belt’, or ‘East Bridge’ has the sixth-widest span in the world. Typically, cyclists aren’t permitted to use the bridge. 

However, never mind your widest-span records. When the Tour de France crosses the bridge this Saturday 2 July, it will become the longest bridge ever crossed over in a bike race. Certainly one to add in to a Tour de France quiz and impress all your cycling friends with your new-found knowledge this July. 

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Tom Thewlis
Tom Thewlis

Tom is a Digital News and Features Writer at Cycling Weekly. 


Before joining the Cycling Weekly team, he worked at Oxford Brookes University, most recently in the Internal Communications team. An avid cycling follower with a keen interest in racing, his writing previously featured on Casquettes and Bidons.