'It’s the Magnus Cort show': How Dane enacted last-minute plan to thrill home crowds

Denmark's staging of the Tour de France has been enlightened enormously by the performances and smiles of the EF Education-Easy Post rider

Magnus Cort
(Image credit: Getty)

Magnus Cort has a rich palmarès, with seven Grand Tour stage victories and 22 professional wins in total. He's also the peloton's chief hotel reviewer (trust us: this is worth a read).

He hasn't, however, had quite as much fun on a bike as he has done this weekend, when he has completely milked the opportunity of a lifetime to race the world's biggest bike race in his home country of Denmark.

Following a respectable 11th place in the opening time trial in Copenhagen, Cort worked his way into the breakaway on stage two and scooped up all of the King of the Mountain points to earn the race's first polka-dot jersey. Nyborg, the host town, went berserk. 

The whole region of Jutland - or at least what seemed like the entire population - followed suit on Sunday as Cort led the race solo for 140km, adding to his lead in the KoM classification and delighting the crowds en route with punches in the air, thumbs-ups and smiles.

"I tell you this is an experience he won’t get in his life again," EF Education-EasyPost's sports director Matti Breschel said. "He’s getting everything out of it, he enjoys it so much. It’s obvious on the pictures that everyone is cheering for him, he’s smiling and waving and it’s the whole Magnus Cort show. It’s really nice for him. 

"The Danes love him. He is out there having fun, enjoying these days, which is something he probably won’t experience again in the biggest race in the world. It’s something special. And he’s getting something out of it with a mountain’s jersey and on home ground it’s pretty crazy."

Cort first concocted the plan to become the darling of Denmark before the entire race convoy descended en masse, but it was only after the time trial in the country's capital that an idea became a fixed one.

"We spoke about it when we got here and it was Magnus’s own idea before the Tour started and he went for it," Breschel continued. "Charly [Wegelius, head DS] and the rest of us supported it totally, and so far everything has worked out pretty well. That’s cycling: you adapt to all the situations you are in and so far the plan has worked out quite well."

It wasn't envisaged that Cort would be alone on stage three, but his team encouraged him from the radio to stick it out, rather than sitting up for more breakaway companions. Breschel added: "He went out there alone, the peloton took it easy, and he decided how hard he wanted to go. It was good that he got six or seven minutes so he could find his rhythm and get all of the points today, and then in the end he sat up to save his legs.

"I think it’s manageable on stage four [to keep the KoM], as I think the last one [KoM] the peloton will be together, and then he’ll have the jersey for the cobblestones which will be ideal."

The bravado and the laughs, however, are not synonymous with Cort's day-to-day persona, according to Wegelius. "Magnus is a lot less extroverted off the bike than he seems on it," he said. 

"We asked him yesterday if he had a good time and he said 'yes'. So he seems to be a bit more expressive on the bike than off it. I mean, he has a sense of humour, that's for sure - it's quite dry. He's not super outgoing, you know? But he's definitely got a sense of humour. If you ask him a straight question you get a straight answer."

As the race heads away from Cort-mania into its own homelands, how much longer the Dane will have the polka dots on his shoulder depends on how his team commit.

Wegelius added: "We've got to take that step-by-step because we've got to be careful about how much energy we put into those projects, and look a little bit how much energy we have to put into what we're going to get out because this is a high-quality team we've got here. We can do things like this but we can do much much more."

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