2022 Tour de France: Slip on the spandex and saddle up!
Copenhagen is soon to host FestiVélo, a cycling-themed festival accompanying the official start of this year’s Tour de France in the Danish capital. On July 1 and 2, the public will be able to participate in an array of activities, including a bike ride following an almost identical route to that of the opening day time trial.
The festival will be free to access. Organisers hope it will be an opportunity for people in one of the world’s largest cycling hubs to pay homage to a central part of their city’s identity.
“With the start of the Tour de France in Copenhagen, we want to create one big yellow folk festival that celebrates both professional cycling and everyday cycling,” explains the mayor of Copenhagen, Sophie Hæstorp Andersen.
Time trial: for the pros
The official opening of the Grand Départ of the Tour de France on July 1, at the centre of the FestiVélo celebrations, will give spectators the chance to see the world’s top cyclists racing an individual time trial through the streets of Copenhagen.
The result of the 13.2 km time trial prologue will determine who will be awarded the first yellow jersey of the Tour de France. Spectators can cheer on their favourite riders as they take off from the corner of Nørre Farimagsgade and HC Andersens Boulevard, bang next door to the famous Ørstedsparken, at 16:00.
From Ørstedsparken, the cyclists will cross Dronning Louises Bro, a bridge containing the world’s busiest cycling lane, before riding north past the Maersk Tower. Once they reach Trafiklegepladsen, their route changes course, taking them southwest past Amalienborg Palace, Marmorkirken and other historical landmarks. Finally, the riders will cross the finish line at Rådhuspladsen, the square outside City Hall, with the last one expected shortly before 20:00.
Because the competitors undertake the time trial one at a time, spectators can expect a quick and exciting series of rides. The first two-thirds of the route is made up of broad roads and very few sharp turns, allowing the cyclists to gain maximum speed before reaching a series of narrow, twisting and technically challenging streets nearer the end of the race. The riders’ final obstacle will be a sprint to the finish line, making for an explosive finale to each time trial.
Audiences can watch from alongside the roads or from Fælledparken, where Copenhagen’s largest screen will be televising the entirety of the Grand Départ.
City tour: for the public
On July 2, the public will be able to ride almost the same route as the Tour de France racers in what is being called the ‘Tour de København’. The big difference is that it will take off from Fælledparken, not Ørstedsparken.
At least 10,000 everyday cyclists are expected to participate, taking off from a starting point by Edel Sauntes Allé in Fælledparken following an opening speech at 09:00.
“The Tour de København is a great opportunity for us all to ride the same route that the world’s fastest cyclists have raced through the day before,” enthused Mayor Andersen. “We’ll be able to follow in the tracks of favourites like Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar. I hope that as many Copenhageners as possible will participate.”
Unlike the official Grand Départ, the Tour de Københaven is not a competitive race. Cyclists are free to ride at their leisure until the route closes at 12:00. In this spirit, there are 12 hop-on and hop-off points where riders can join or leave the route whenever they choose.
There will also be a number of ‘races in the race’ to pay tribute to the various communities within Copenhagen’s cycling scene. To show that there is no age limit to cycling, the Senior Stage will take off at 10:00, and the Diversity Stage, celebrating cyclists of all abilities, will follow closely after at 11:00.
By including these stages, the Tour de København aims to honour every manner of cyclist riding through the streets of Copenhagen from day to day. Together, they uphold the city’s famously environmental way of living.
“[The Tour de København] is an opportunity to pay tribute to everyday cycling heroes: all the many thousands of Copenhageners who every day contribute to creating a greener, cleaner and nicer city when they ride on two wheels instead of four,” said Copenhagen’s mayor for technology and the environment, Line Barfod.
Upon completion, each rider will be presented with a special ‘Tour de Københaven’ t-shirt – or at least the first 10,000 to complete the route.
Markets, music and more
FestiVélo is more than just the tour — activities for all age groups will be based at Fælledparken.
In addition to TV2’s coverage of the time trial, the big screen will play three cycling-themed documentaries. ‘Moon Rider’, ‘Ride for your L1fe’ and ‘A Sunday in Hell’, which were all recently screened at CPH:DOX, chronicle the gruelling yet rewarding experience of bike racing from the perspective of various riders.
There will also be lots to see on FestiVélo’s stage, including the opening of this year’s Copenhagen Jazz Festival, French ballet performed by the Kongelige Teater, and talks on cycling from participants in CPH:DOX, among others. A French take on the traditional Danish beer garden will provide attendees with a variety of ales to sample and, for anyone in search of an accompanying bite to eat, the food market will offer organic options for snacks, meals and desserts.
Children attending FestiVélo can enjoy themselves in Fælledparken’s play zone. Thanks to street sports organisation GAME and the Copenhagen Bike Festival, several trial and BMX shows will be performed over the course of the festival, and panna, parkour and dance workshops will be open for children to take part in. Adults, too, can burn off energy by participating in their own cycling-themed activities, such as virtual cycling challenges on a fleet of stationary bikes.
A concert will cap off the FestiVélo celebrations on the evening of July 2, featuring artists Aksglæde, Mina Okabe, Thomas Buttenschøn and more. After two full days of cycling fever, this event promises a chance for festival-goers to relax and enjoy some good music.
With the Tour de France set to continue on to Roskilde on July 2, the city of Copenhagen hopes the festivities planned around the Grand Départ will make for a memorable celebration of France and Denmark’s common love of cycling and an enjoyable start to the Tour de France.