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 climbbybike.com. 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:
- Live coverage here, though it's not clear if that includes video. Check cyclingfans otherwise.