Danish cycling gearing up after scorching summer
Home talents confident ahead of Vuelta a España
Michael Valgren’s surprising triumph in Post Danmark Rundt over the weekend was the latest in a number of encouraging Danish successes this summer.
Racing for Team Tinkoff-Saxo (TTS), the 22-year-old came from behind to win the six-stage race just 15 seconds ahead of a fellow Dane, Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol).
“There is no doubt that it’s been a good summer for Danish cycling,” Ole Kristensen, the editor of cycling magazine Cykelmagasinet, told the Copenhagen Post.
“Valgren winning Post Danmark Rundt was definitely a huge result for the sport here in Denmark.”
TTS in charge
TTS might not be Danish-owned anymore, but Bjarne Riis is still the manager and Saxo Bank just extended its co-title sponsorship with the team until the end of 2015.
The team’s scintillating summer has included Rafal Majka’s stunning polka-dot jersey win in the Tour de France – despite captain Alberto Contador crashing out – his Tour of Poland triumph and Valgren’s Post Danmark Rundt win.
The announcement of the future signing of Slovak star sprinter Peter Sagan only underlines the team’s desire to compete at the pinnacle of the sport in future seasons.
The ones to watch
Riis had previously warned the change of ownership to Russian Oleg Tinkoff may mean fewer Danish talents riding for the team – and perhaps a few more antics from the owner himself – but there is no shortage of Danish youth bursting forth onto the international stage.
While Danish talents like Valgren tend to perform well on home soil, Kristensen signalled out Magnus Cort as one to watch. He has had an exceptional year on the continental level and currently leads the UCI Europe Tour Rankings.
Cort, 21, will be joining Australian World Tour team Orica-GreenEDGE next year – a decision that Kristensen hailed as a “very good move”.
“It was a very good move because he is going to a team that is focused on winning stages and he’ll have more freedom and opportunities there,” he explained.
And an Olympic champ
Kristensen listed his top four talents at the moment as Cort and Valgren, followed by Michael Carbel, a 19-year-old sprinting talent from Team CULT Energy Vital Water, and Olympic gold medallist Lasse Norman Hansen, 22, who Kristensen said had transitioned well from the omnium to road racing for Garmin-Sharp, finishing third in this year’s Dubai Tour.
With the last major World Tour race, the Vuelta a España, due to start on August 23, there is a chance to see more of Valgren, who has been picked by TTS to saddle up for the race in his first season as a pro.