As of Sunday evening, the 176 riders of the Tour flew to the north of France, after three first stages in three days which confirmed several presentiments: Denmark is a country crazy about cycling, Fabio Jakobsen is an incredibly resilient sprinter, and Covid is still annoying.
Here is the results of this most northerly start in the history of the Tour.
The incredible enthusiasm on the roads.
"I rode 200 km in a football stadium", admitted Pierre Rolland after the arrival of the 2nd stage in Nyborg on Saturday.
Sunday too, splitting the crowd, the runners could believe themselves in the greatest alpine passes when they only crossed 4th category climbs.
And on Friday for the inaugural time trial, the streets of Copenhagen were packed with fans unfazed by the rain.
From north to south of the country, from one island to another, it seemed that all 5.8 million Danes had come together to celebrate the Tour… Enthusiastic!
Lampaert, Jakobsen, van Aert… beautiful heads of winners.
The improbable victory in the inaugural time trial of Yves Lampaert, son of a farmer confined to the role of teammate who beats Ganna and others, is the first refreshing surprise experienced at the start of the Tour.
The hellish return of Fabio Jakobsen, the Dutchman from the Quick-Step, stage winner for his first Tour two years after coming close to death in Poland, was also worth the detour.
Just like the redemption of his then executioner, Dylan Groenewegen, on Sunday.
Or the revenge of Wout van Aert, the Belgian off-roader from Jumbo-Visma rewarded with a well-deserved yellow jersey despite three runner-up places in three days.
The stories of the great winners of the Danish triptych are beautiful.
While waiting for those of the French?
Cort Nielsen's smile, van der Poel's juggles.
Dane from EF Education, Magnus Cort Nielsen, has traveled up and down the highways of love in his country.
A polka dot jersey gleaned on Saturday, and exhibited to the crowd during a long solitary breakaway on Sunday.
The man with the thin mustache is the big smile of these first three days of racing.
The good mood was also in the paddocks, with riders once again close to the followers and the public after two years of pandemic.
One of the darlings of the public, the Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel, offering one of those cool moments with some football juggling and a ball that ends up in the water just before the start on Sunday in Vejle.
Wat kan die fietsen hè die @mathieuvdpoel!😂⚽️ #TDF2022 pic.twitter.com/hTzRwgS4RS
— Bas Tietema (@BasTietema) July 3, 2022
A postcard journey.
The presentation of the runners on Wednesday in Tivoli Park, a mix of greenery and vintage attractions, set the tone.
The Tour offered its share of beautiful images with Danish flags in all directions, colorful crowds on the green hills, delightful seaside landscapes.
And a high point: this bridge of the Great Belt over 18 km above the sea. If it did not upset the race, it offered the most beautiful images of this start of the Tour, that of a platoon hovering 60 m above the water.
We didn't like...
The wind that has deflated.
Months since the organizers had presented the 2nd stage as that of all dangers, escorting fears with, at the end of the race, the crossing of the Great Belt bridge over 18 km above the sea. , make the gaps and undo the ambitions.
Moreover, the finish which was to take place in Odense 30 km after the bridge had finally been given just after the crossing, just to fix the gaps.
And in the end, the wind, as the riders passed, began to blow three-quarters ahead.
Which actually blocked everything and even slowed down the race.
All that for this…
The public not always well settled.
These hundreds of thousands of Danes, many of whom sport numerous tattoos or long beards, were indeed sympathetic.
But if they like to cycle in town, they don't really know how to watch cycle races.
Many, along the stages, followed the passage of runners seated and with their feet on the road.
“It was borderline dangerous, even blew David Gaudu at the finish of the 2nd stage.
It's a miracle that there were no crashes on sometimes narrow roads.
The elastic management of the Covid.
As if the stress of the race were not enough, cycling teams now live with the fear of a positive Covid test above the helmets.
Everyone now wears a mask in the paddocks where the buses park.
The problem is that this return to barrier gestures is almost a spectacle for the public placed two meters from the buses and who no longer protect themselves.
Same thing in the hotels where the staff and the followers of the Tour have no constraints.
“We are asked to be beyond reproach with this virus when everyone around does not care and increases our risk of transmission, explains a team boss.
We walk on the head.