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Post Danmark Rundt: Big Names Heading North (Plus a Word About Burgos)

This week's Post Danmark Rundt should be good fun, for a variety of reasons. There's the route, which is more challenging than what you might imagine you'd find in Denmark. There are the kids, some of the biggest names we've batted around as potential future stars and whom we rarely see live. And then there's our roving reporter Jens, who has left Sweden in search of exotic adventures and cycling. And this week, to a young Swede, Denmark is just the place.

From looking at profiles the course seems like a continually rolling affair, with climbs peaking out at 180 meters or thereabouts. It's not flat, it's not a sprinters' affair, but then there's a reason you can't find a single Danish entry on The climbs are short but decisive enough to weed out the sprinters who will be feasting on the first two stages and maybe #4 but no more. The key to the race is stage 3. Last year's route started from nearby Arhus rather than Hadsten, this year's start locale, and I don't have the ability to compare the route exactly, but my hunch is that this is a repeat of the queen stage of 2009, with significant climbs between Lund and Vejle, the arrival town. Last time around Jakob Fuglsang soloed home to set up his second consecutive overall win, taking the stage by 26" over Maurizio Biondi and two of his Saxo teammates. The top 20 finishers were all within 44" of each other, so the stage is not all that decisive.

The time trial on stage 5 should be equally influential on the overall. Last year's course (with the same finish) had splits similar to the Vejle stage, top 20 within 45 seconds or thereabouts. But that was over 15.5km, whereas this year's course is a touch over 19km, so in the final analysis the ITT may mean more. Funny, overall runner-up Biondo won the time trial in '09, but lost the overall by three seconds. Had he had an extra 3.5km to work with in his winning crono ride, he surely would've knocked Fuglsang off the top step.

Biondo is on "vacation" (coughEPOcough) for another year, so the challenge of catching Fuglsang will fall to someone else. The most obvious candidate would be young Rasmus Guldhammer, fourth last year and now with a Pro Tour squad (HTC-Columbia) to help him, or Roger Hammond, third last year. Guldhammer and Lars Bak, another top ten guy in 2009, could team up for a decent run. Hammond has an array of climbers to help him out. Vacansoleil could launch Lieuwe Westra in the ITT if he's close on the climbs. Thomas De Gendt of Topsport Vlaanderen might make a challenge. It's tempting to look more at kids like Jack Bobridge or Michael Kreder at Garmin-Transitions, but in reality Svein Tuft should have their best shot at a result. And if you really want to talk reality, Fuglsang's successor is probably more likely to come from within Saxo Bank than anywhere else. Matti Breschel could be in on almost every stage, and Richie Porte seems to be arriving ahead of schedule career-wise.

Tyler Farrar will be there hunting stages as well, making for a big week for Garmin if their plans work out. Speaking of sprints, here are a few names for the first few stages in addition to Farrar: Theo Bos, Taylor Phinney, Kenny Van Hummel, Breschel, Mark Renshaw, Gert Steegmans, Lieuwe Westra and Kris Boeckmans. What you need to know:

  • Startlist
  • Live coverage here, though it's not clear if that includes video. Check cyclingfans otherwise.
[Edit by ursula]

Barging in here to talk about the other (as in third) stage race that's happening this week, the Vuelta a Burgos. Yes-a Spanish Stage race!!!! We haven't had one of those in so long that I am actually looking forward to this one! But more than just yet another regional race, its good to keep an eye on this one for it's pre-Vuelta a Espana implications. Several of the teams are fielding teams that will look much like their Vuelta teams. Caisse d'Epargne's got Arroyo and Cobo leading a team full of Grand Tour vets. Euskaltel has Anton (they also have Samu listed though I can't imagine that's actually happening). Xacobeo's got Zeke, and Andalusia has Gomes Marchante. Then you have interestingly several Italian teams bringing their heavy hitters: Liquigas leads off with Nibali, Soap & Water has Garzelli and Paolini, Androni has Scarponi and the Three Berts and Ceramica does not have Ricco. I only wish the Big Vuelta  had invited a couple of these Italian teams.

But wait!  There's more! We got two belgian teams here (besides a Quickstep team): Topsport and Vacansoleil. Cool. Sorry you guys didn't get a Big V invite either. Ten Dam is back from injury also. We can see if he's close to the fitness he needs for later this month. Sky's here and so are the baby Euskie's: Orbea. Hey-and Katusha with Karpets and Pozzato: them too.

Notice that I am not naming any sprinters names. THIS IS SPAIN YOU'ALL! No sprinters allowed! (Okay Klodo Fernandez is the big sprinter stud here.) You want sprinters, look at Poland or read the Danish ticker. 

The course is interesting but nothing nearly like the pre-Tour stage races, the Dauphine and Suisse. Five stages with the important ones being the stage three 21 km long TT, and the stage five mountain stage ending in a cat one drag. Stage two is interesting too as it ends on a cat three finish.  (BTW, did anyone else break out laughing as Chris described the "climbs" of Denmark? Hey Chris! You're eating too many clams! Those "climbs" are snowdrifts!

Seattleites. So cute. 

Yeah there's video for this one. Probably we will have a daily live thread for all three stage races on the front page. 

I almost forgot! There's the Tour of Portugal also starting tomorrow! FOUR stages races at once! Unlike the others, Portugal is not a VDS race but there is video for it so we'll be talking about it I'm sure.