Post Danmark Rundt is summer to me. As races go it is a classic shit small race. A mixed startlist of whatever World Tour teams aren't totally tied up in races elsewhere, usually ones with some Danish connection, some regular ProContis (Bardiani, Topsport Vlaanderen and Europcar are usually there for whatever reason) and a few Danish Conti teams who have this as the absolutely most important week of the year. The race itself though is a bit of a traveling summer party with plenty of vacationing Danes showing up to watch the riders, hopefully a field spiced with some heroes they've been following on TV at the Tour de France just weeks before. Good sprinting and a bit of GC fight between the more allround guys.
The race follows a pretty set pattern, staring in Jutland for the first three stages, usually visiting the middle island of Fyn (birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen) on Saturday with two stages before the final stage to Copenhagen on Sjælland.
Tuesday Stage 1 This is a sprinter stage by the windy west coast of Jutland. They often hope for echelons but it's rarely too bad in reality. Could happen though. Sadly this is one of those days where the best bits out by the coast are before they turn on the TV cameras so what we get is most likely a regular sprint finish. The finish circuit is in the small town of Holstebro is uncomplicated enough unless it rains.
Wednesday Stage 2 :Lumpy but straightforward run across Jutland, a tricky finish lap in Aarhus. This will be a pure sprinters stage and it should be a pretty open affair this year. There are no teams with supersprinters on their roster, most loaded are probably MTN Qubeka who have 4-5 sprinters as per usual.
Thursday Stage 3: This is the decider with a 6 km final lap in Vejle that they do three laps on and go over the short and steep Kiddesvej. Attacks here can make the race winning timegaps. The key is for the weaker TTers to get at least 15-20 seconds on the top TTers to be able to hold them off (and the opposite for the stronger TTers of course). Kidesvej is a silly steep little street in the little town of Vejle, it's about 500 m and has some bits at 19% or more, definitely enough to put riders out the back, especially on the second and third passes as the pace is ramping up. Crowds are usually huge there too to make for great atmosphere. The finish line isn't right at the top but 2-3 kms later so there is some time to catch the leader after the climb but usually whatever gap is made holds to the finish.
Friday Stage 4&5 : Double day with a short sprint stage in the morning and a TT in the evening. This year we bypass Fyn entirely and the final stages run on the eastern island Sjælland. The morning stage is usually an explosive affair and this year ends on a bit of an uphill sprint (300m at 7%) in Fredriksværk. That stage we probably won't see much of and it likely won't impact the GC either, often the GC contenders try to take that stage as easy as possible with the evening's TT in mind. That TT is held in little Elsinore (Helsingør) on the Øresund coast. To us Swedes this is the town best known as the place you go to by ferry to buy cheap beer and booze in Denmark, to the rest of the world it is of course known for the castle Kronborg, home to Prince Hamlet of Shakespeare fame. In our defense the beer was both good and cheap though back in the day.
The TT itself is a simple 13.6 km out and back course along the coast that works for the real specialists. Not technical in the least but it's short so anyone with time to make up needs a perfect effort unless Tinkoff's Matti Breschel is the one in the lead after Kiddesvej. I believe Breschel holds the world record for leading the Tour of Denmark and losing it in the final TT?
Saturday Stage 6 : Final day is for the Tour of Denmark's Champs Elysées, Fredriksberg Allé in downtown Copenhagen. It's not quite the iconic boulevard that Champs is but it's still a nice street for the finale of a bike race. It's not always the parade finale that Champs is either, it's not that uncommon for the race to be close enough to be determined by timebonuses on the last day.
In the good old days all you had to do to find the favorite for PDR was look at who was riding with No 1 for CSC/Saxo but that's not really the case these days as the race isn't important enough for them to send their biggest guns. If Bjarne had still owned the team I'm guessing I'd start and end this preview with Peter Sagan. As it is they still send a bunch of strong danes. Chris Juul Jensen will be their GC captain and Breschel&Mørkøv will be chasing stages. A late addition is last years winner Michael Valgren Andersen but i sort of doubt the kid has it in him after his first TdF. Instead Jakob Fuglsang might be the major danish challenger. As good as Juul Jensen has been lately, if Fuglsang really goes for this there is no one that can touch him on this course. Edvald Boasson Hagen might be the best foreigner and if he grabs some bonuses he might be a good candidate for the win. If winning stuff is still what he does?
The PDR might be short on foreign big names this year but it has rarely been as loaded with young danish talent. Apart from Valgren Andersen there is last years danish breakthrough, Magnus Cort. He is riding for Team Denmark here on loan from Orica. There is also Rasmus Guldhammer on Cult Energy who is aiming for the GC which should be ineresting after his strong year. As a young talent he managed third here before his first failed pro adventure. He and his Cult teammate are taking this race with the utmost seriousness as the team's fate hangs in the balance. Riders are hoping to attract a new sponsor or if that doesn't happen, find new contracts elsewhere. They have every chance to have a good race with young Michael Carbel a good bet for the sprints and Rasmus Quaade for the timetrial. They're not the only Danish team with talents, Team Trefor have the brothers Søren and Asbjørn Kragh Andersen, who have a lot of eyes on them after a great season, and ColoQuick has Alexander Kamp who was a major player at the Danish Nats. So it could be a very interesting race from a Danish POV.