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COPENHAGEN: Loud crowds at Copenhagen’s Tivoli theme park gave the Tour de France the kind of reception organizers could only have dreamed of on Wednesday.
The loudest cheers were for Danish riders such as Jonas Vingaard and for the biggest names led by champion Tadej Pogacar.
Park staff said only rock stars had drawn such crowds before.
Pogacar, who rides for UAE Team Emirates, said he was also excited.
“As a team we are ready, and me and as an individual I am ready too, so I can’t wait to start Friday with the time trial,” said the Slovenian.
Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederick attended the official unveiling of the teams, two days before the 21-day circuit opens with a 13km time trial, the first of three stages in Denmark.
Tivoli Park has around 25 fairground rides. On Wednesday, the 176 cyclists added one more, riding a special 1km track to be greeted by thousands of smiling, cheering and filming fans.
“I feel good, especially today with everyone in Copenhagen, we can only be happy.” said Pogacar.
Title challengers Primoz Roglic and Vingaard, both of Jumbo Visma, said they believe their team’s two-leader strategy could finally deliver cycling’s most valuable prize.
Roglic, a Slovenian, came second in 2020 and Vingaard in 2021, both times behind Pogacar.
“As long as we work together, doing the best we can together, we think we can beat him,” Roglic said.
Roglic withdrew in the first week of last year after a crash and on Wednesday denied feeling threatened by junior partner Vingegaard, who shone in his absence.
“We are making ourselves stronger. When you have strong individuals around you, the whole team becomes stronger,” said the 32-year-old three-time Vuelta a Espana winner.
Vingaard said he and Roglic liked to go for a beer together.
“Primoz and I are good friends, even outside of bike racing,” said the 25-year-old, a former fish factory worker from the small community of Hillerslev on Denmark’s sea coast. North.
Both Roglic and Vingaard have spoken about surviving the first week. Team boss Merijn Zeeman rejected the idea.
“I don’t like the term ‘survive’ because we are not afraid. We stay on the bike and stay ahead,” Zeeman said of Jumbo’s tendency to run forward.
“Surviving feels like we don’t sleep at night because we’re scared the first week.”
“At best, both are better than Pogacar.”
“It’s no secret that Pogacar is the big favourite.
“We need everyone to be at their best and we definitely need a two-leader strategy.
The once mighty Ineos team last won the race with Egan Bernal three years ago.
On Wednesday, 2018 champion Geraint Thomas said he was more of a chaperone for Colombia’s Dani Martinez and British driver Adam Yates as they chase Pogacar and Jumbo.
“It’s going to be difficult to beat them, but the atmosphere in the team is still great, we have good guys, there’s a good atmosphere and we can’t wait to stay stuck,” said Thomas, who promised an aggressive fight. race.
“Adam and Dani are the leaders of the team and I want to help them, so I’m going to swear them at 60 km/h in the wind, and I’m going to enjoy it.”
Yates has just recovered from Covid-19, but looked relaxed and happy.
“It will be every man for himself,” Yates said.
“Me and Poggo had good battles. I just hope to be at my best.
Later on Wednesday, Tour teams were due to march through central Copenhagen with growing excitement towards Friday’s Grand Départ, with favorite Ineos rider Filippo Ganna in a city center time trial.
“It would be nice to wear the yellow jersey, nothing is easy but I want to try to put that in my museum,” said the Italian.
“We’ll see on Friday if we can all celebrate together.”