The 40m high face of 'a friend I never met': how two fans are paying tribute to the late Chris Anker Sørensen

Up to 200 litres of paint used to create the mural of Anker Sørensen on a football pitch.

Chris Anker Sorensen
(Image credit: Simon Rytter / Turf Tank)

Two cycling mad Danish fans have designed a 40 by 25 metre painting in tribute to the late Danish rider Chris Anker Sørensen

Kasper Birkeholm Munk and Kim Sivert Jensen have painted the portrait using robots on a football field in time for stage two of the Tour de France

Part of the #ForChris project, which was set up by the duo, the mural in Holbæk will be passed by the peloton as they speed towards the stage two finish in Nyborg.

After working on their project for months, Birkeholm Munk knows that seeing the painting on television will leave all involved with goosebumps. 

“I know Holbaek has pitched to ASO and French television that this is their primary site in the city. I’m 99.9% sure that we will get the footage and I know that there is information about the site in the commentary book. I know we will all be sitting with goosebumps when we see it. It really is crazy. I didn't imagine that when we first had this idea something like this would happen. What a ride!” Birkeholm Munk said to Cycling Weekly. 

Chris Ankers Sørensen

(Image credit: Lars Ronbog / FrontZoneSport via Getty Images)

Former professional Chris Anker Sørensen was killed after being hit by a driver while on a ride on the eve of the Flanders World Championships last year. The idea for the art piece came to the two friends after hearing of the incident and feeling like they needed to do something to show support. 

Both Birkeholm Munk and Sivert Jensen felt that Anker Sørensen displayed qualities that they could both relate to. 

“He represented a lot of very human qualities, empathetic values that mirrors very much the person I try to be. That’s how I always felt connected to him. He [Anker Sørensen] was a friend who I’ve never met. In Denmark he had a fantastic appeal to cyclists but also to the ordinary man on the street.” said Birkeholm Munk. 

The pair initially set up a fundraising campaign for money for Sørensen's family and two charitable projects that help people in grief. But it was important to them that it wasn’t just about the money, they wanted to create a way of connecting cycling fans and keeping the memory of the former Danish professional alive. 

The friends produced t-shirts and jumpers which they gave to each and every person who donated. 

“Developing the graphic was to create a movement. To be able to see it and know that you’ve donated or other people have donated to our fund. It became a way of showing you support our charity movement,” said Birkeholm Munk. 

“We’ve sent out nearly 5,000 t-shirts and sweatshirts now with the graphic and they’re creating conversations about Chris Anker and cycling. It means people talk to each other. They look up from their phones and see the image and instantly say hi and talk about cycling and the project.” he added. 

Chris Anker

(Image credit: Kasper Birkeholm Munk)

With the Tour de France due to arrive in Denmark on Friday, the two friends worked with a team of designers and collaborators, to have the graphic from their t-shirts painted onto a local football field in Holbaek. 

“We had to think quickly about a space for this. We know that there is rarely aerial footage of the start town so we needed to find somewhere with the best possible access where people could see it from above. We needed a stage where the peloton had settled and maybe there is a breakaway so the aerial cameras will move around a little.” said Birkeholm Munk. 

“Holbaek has a group preparing for the Tour. We contacted the director with our idea and he loved it. We went a month and a half ago to try out the prototype for this idea to see if it would work. You should have seen the painters jumping around on the field after nine hours of painting. They were ecstatic!” he added. 

Key to the friends was keeping Chris Anker Sørensen's legacy going. When the second Tour de France stage finishes in Nyborg on Saturday evening, it’s safe to say that it will be mission accomplished.

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