Copenhagen’s staging of The Tour de France’s Grand Départ looks likely to be postponed from 2021 to 2022 to avoid a clash with the city’s hosting of matches in the Uefa European Championships.
After initially planning to hold the first three stages of the 2021 race in Denmark from July 2-4, tour organiser Amaury Sport Organisation requested the event be held one week earlier to avoid a clash with the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games men’s road race.
But Copenhagen is scheduled to host a Uefa European Championship 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 city.
Copenhagen is now understood to be negotiating to postpone its hosting of the opening three stages to 2022.
Frank Jesper, mayor of Copenhagen told Danish publication DR.dk “There is no question that the Tour will not come to Denmark and Copenhagen.
“It is most likely that the Tour start in Denmark will be moved to 2022. We are trying to make it happen in 2021, but if we stick to 2021, it will be very squeezed. It will give better exposure to the race in Denmark if you wait a year and do not force the Tour start through next year.”
Jensen acknowledged that the postponement would result in the city having to make an extra payment to ASO and that discussions over the compensation had already started.
Copenhagen was announced as the host of the 2021 Grand Départ in February last year. It would 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.
Should it go ahead, Copenhagen’s hosting of the Grand Départ would mark the northernmost starting point in the history of the Tour de France. The planned route would comprise a 13km individual time trial before further Danish stages are held from Roskilde to Nyborg and from Veijle to Sønderborg.
In an interview with SportBusiness in 2019, Kit Lykketoft, director of conventions at tourism body Wonderful Copenhagen described how the city had developed a strategy to target cycling events to promote the region as a cycling hub. The city’s hosting of the Tour de France has been described as “the greatest cycling race in the world meets the best cycling city in the world”.
Lykketoft said: “The Tour de France separates itself from many other sporting events as it doesn’t take place in an arena, but unfolds on the streets, allowing for beautiful pictures of cities and landscapes. At the same time, cycling is core to Copenhagen, so the Tour de France will function as a natural extension.”
In February of this year, Danish trade union Dansk Metal agreed a deal to sponsor the 2021 Grand Départ in Copenhagen. It is not clear at this stage if this deal will also roll over into 2022.