Copenhagen’s Grand Départ postponed to 2022

(L-R) Denmark's Minister of Commerce Simon Kollerup, the Mayor of Vejle Jens Ejner Christensen and the director of the Grand Depart Copenhagen Alex Pedersen during the presentation of the 2021 Grand Depart (by HENNING BAGGER/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)

Copenhagen’s staging of the Tour de France’s Grand Départ has been put back a year to 2022 amid the continued reshaping of the sporting calendar during Covid-19.

Grand Départ Copenhagen Denmark, the organisation behind the event, has reached an agreement with Tour organiser, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), to reschedule to July 1-3, 2022 from next year’s initial dates of July 2-4.

A move has been made necessary after the International Cycling Union (UCI) last week revealed the calendars for the 2021 WorldTour and Women’s WorldTour seasons, with the Tour de France to start a week earlier than originally planned to avoid a clash with the rescheduled summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The Tokyo Olympics, originally scheduled for this summer, will now take place from July 23 to August 8, 2021 due to the pandemic and this has resulted in the rescheduling of several UCI events. The Tour de France, which had originally been scheduled for July 2-25, will now run from June 26 to July 18 so it does not overlap with the Olympic road cycling races on July 24, 25 and 28.

Earlier it was reported that Copenhagen’s staging of the Grand Départ looked likely to be postponed from 2021 to 2022 to avoid a clash with the city’s hosting of matches in football’s Uefa European Championships, which have been rescheduled from this summer to June 11 to July 11 next year.

ASO is said to have requested the Grand Départ be held one week earlier to avoid a clash with the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games men’s road race. However, Copenhagen is scheduled to host a Euro 2021 group stage match between Russia and Denmark on June 21 and a Round of 16 match on June 28 that would have made it impossible for the race to pass through the centre of the Danish capital.

Chairman of the board of Grand Départ Copenhagen Denmark and Mayor of Copenhagen, Frank Jensen, said: “There are many who have been looking forward to getting the Tour de France to Denmark next year, and now we unfortunately have to wait a little longer.

“On the other hand, the Danes can look forward to an even bigger bang of a yellow festival in 2022, when the Tour start will not be squeezed by the European Championships and the Olympics, and we have hopefully got the Corona(virus) at a greater distance.”

Copenhagen was announced as the host of the 2021 Grand Départ in February last year. It will mark the first time the cycling event has visited Denmark and only the second time one of the sport’s three Grand Tours has held a leg in the country.

Copenhagen’s hosting of the Grand Départ will mark the northernmost starting point in the history of the Tour de France. The planned route had comprised a 13km individual time trial before further Danish stages are held from Roskilde to Nyborg and from Veijle to Sønderborg.

Local organisers said they don’t expect any changes to this plan, adding they have received full support for the postponement from the five finish and start cities for the Grand Départ. A formal agreement must now be signed with ASO, and there must be a political process with approval by the city councils and the state.

Denmark’s Minister of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, Simon Kollerup, said: “A Tour start in the summer of 2022 is the best solution in these special circumstances. During the stages, we will show Denmark in the most beautiful way to the whole world and at the same time create the right visibility for Danish business and tourism. It will be a huge Danish event in 2022.”

In April, the start of the 2020 Tour de France was moved to August 29 after the French government announced that large gatherings would be banned in the country until at least mid-July. The three-week event had been scheduled to take place from June 27 to July 19, but will now take place on exactly the same route, from Nice to Paris, from August 29 to September 20.