Some people insist that this is true, the Tour of Denmark is virtually the same thing as the Tour of France. Can this really be so? Can this almost unknown race in remote Scandinavia be the same as the glorious Tour de France? Join me in a brief but thorough scientific study into this topic today as the Postnord Tour of Denmark kicks off in windy Jutland.
The Cases For and Against
FOR: The race consist of flat sprint stages, climbing and TT stages that all go into deciding the overall winner.
AGAINST: Granted there is only one climbing stage and it isn’t exactly the high Alps we’re talking about. It’s actually multiple times up a really steep city street in the town of Vejle that is one for punchy climbers, not so much the mountain goats. Also it’s a weeklong race, three sprints, one climby stage and one timetrial.
FOR: You have to be both a good climber and a timetrialer to win the race.
AGAINST: As noted, you really need to be more of a puncheur to gain time on the climbers stage and the TT is usually around 15-20 km. This year it’s in the town of Nyborg and is 19.4 km. The balance is usually pretty well struck. The Vejle stage offers a chance to take time but not enough to make the TT irrelevant and the TT gives the better timetrialers a chance to win the overall but it’s not long enough that they can suck on the climb and still win.
FOR: There are crosswind stages. The first stages in western Denmark, the Jutland peninsula, often have a risk of crosswinds that can split the field. Some years the race is over for some of the major favorites already on day one as the race go along the exposed and windy western coast. This year there is a distinct chance of that.
AGAINST: It is in the middle of summer in Denmark, often the advertised crosswinds are replaced by sunbaked easy stages that end in a casual ride to the sprint.
FOR: The race has a handful of local wildcard teams that get a chance to ride against the bigs.
AGAINST: Postnord Danmark Rundt doesn’t have 18 World Tour teams and the best riders in the world. In fact this year it only has 3 and they bring some pretty some fairly B/C-class looking squads. In reality it is a hard place in the calendar, especially with Rio this year. Next year they are aiming to hold the race in September instead to attract better teams in a less crowded part of the calendar. There is a draw in that of course but while the PDR isn’t a huge race internationally it is a wonderful event locally with lots of people on holiday coming to visit the race and they may lose a little of that with a new spot.
FOR: The race has a Yellow leaders jersey
AGAINST: This is sadly no longer true. The race used to have the name Post Danmark Rundt, a name that just rolled off the tongue. With the Danish Post as the steady main sponsor came a jersey in their golden yellow color with red details. In the days of internationalization though the Post has become part of one big Nordic Post conglomerate which has cast aside the Swedish and Danish local identities (Swedish post cars and trucks were distinctly bright yellow) in favor of a bland neutral blue color for the new Postnord brand. So now we have the more awkward Postnord Danmark Rundt name and a blue leaders jersey. To confuse fans further the points jersey will instead be yellow this year. It’s going to take many Tuborgs before fans will get over this.
FOR: PDR finishes with a sprint on a fancy boulevard in the heart of the nation’s capital.
Against: Fredriksberg Allé is a tiny bit smaller than Champs Elysées and it’s not the big commercial street. It’s a boulevard in the posh neighborhood Frederiksberg which. another connection to cycling in that Brian Holm (Etixx DS) is a city council member here.
There seem to be a small number of signs that indicate that PDR is indeed an ever so slightly smaller race than Tour de France. It’s still a fun race to follow though, the Vejle stage in particular. This year it may be more interesting to see the fight between the talented younger Danes in the absence of bigger international names. Michael Valgren and Magnus Cort we know but we may also see challenges from the Stölting team , Rasmus Guldhammer in particular and also Mads Pedersen for the flat (bwahahaha) stages. Young TT phenom Mads Würtz Schmidt, who is rumored to have signed with Katusha, may challenge for the overall as could Chris Juul-Jensen if he can muster the strength after the Tour (and before he leaves for Rio).