Mega stage, favorites, Denmark: Tour riders tremble before Corona and a "dangerous" week

Far in the north, the 109th Tour de France starts for the first time in the Danish capital Copenhagen.

Mega stage, favorites, Denmark: Tour riders tremble before Corona and a "dangerous" week

Far in the north, the 109th Tour de France starts for the first time in the Danish capital Copenhagen. Shortly before the start on Friday, corona worries accompany the riders, the summer wave makes cycling difficult. In terms of sport, it boils down to a duel between the two Slovenian stars Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic. For the German drivers, it's probably only about daily successes.

Where does the Tour de France start? The tour starts in Copenhagen for the first time. The Grand Départ was actually supposed to take place in the Danish capital last year. Due to the postponement of the European Football Championship to 2021 with Copenhagen as the venue, the tour had to give way. It is already the 24th international start of the Grand Boucle.

Why does the race already start on Friday? An additional rest day was added on Monday so that the entire entourage made it from Denmark to France in time for the fourth stage. Overall, the tour pauses for three days this time.

Is the tour threatened with corona chaos? Quite possible. At the week-long Tour de Suisse, more than 40 riders had to get off early as a result of the Corona wave. Numerous drivers have recently tested positive, including three-time world champion Peter Sagan and Maximilian Schachmann, who still has to worry about his participation in the tour. "It's trembling again until the result comes. You don't even notice anything, and suddenly you're positive and all of a sudden the preparation since the classics is gone," said Cofidis professional Simon Geschke on Sunday after his third place at the German Championships in Sauerland. "There's always worse, of course, but it would definitely be a big disappointment."

What does the Corona package of measures look like on the tour? In the 2020 and 2021 editions, the tour entourage was strictly isolated and moved in its own bubble. The concept worked, there was no positive case. Since this season, the world association UCI has relaxed the rules again. So far, it was planned that all drivers would have to show a negative test before the start and then be tested again on the rest days. In view of the latest developments, the tour organization could tighten the measures again.

Are dramatic falls to be expected again? The Tour de France is always hectic. A stage win for a rider can save a whole season for a team. Accordingly, there is a risk of mass falls again, especially in the sprint arrivals. The sprinters can hope for mass arrivals on the second and third stages in Denmark.

The two German professional cyclists Max Walscheid and Simon Geschke have already criticized the route planning for the first week of the 109th Tour de France. "I have to honestly say that I have no problem saying that it also scares you," said Walscheid in a video ("Deine Tour") of the ARD sports show. "I'm not looking forward to the first week at all. What I really complain about is that the organization knows that the first week is super nervous and the drivers really fight for every inch," said Walscheid's teammate Geschke from the Cofidis racing team. "It is already hoped that it will be a spectacle. But risk is definitely accepted and makes it super dangerous for us. The Tour de France is not an action film," added the Tour stage winner of 2015.

Last year there had been a number of falls at the beginning. Co-favorite Primoz Roglic, who later had to give up, was also caught. But the drivers also take more risks on the descents. Who wants to lose the tour downhill? There are always dangers from the crowds of spectators. In 2021, the German veteran Tony Martin was torn off his bike by a cardboard sign.

Who are the favorites to win the Tour de France? The top favorite is again last year's winner Tadej Pogacar. The 23-year-old, who won the last two editions, was in his usual strong form at his dress rehearsal when he won the Tour of Slovenia. His biggest challenger is likely to be compatriot Primoz Roglic, from whom he snatched the yellow jersey in 2020 in the highly dramatic time trial on the penultimate day in La Super Planche des Belles Filles. Roglic showed that he was well prepared with his victory in the Dauphiné Tour. Welshman Geraint Thomas could also play a good role. The 2018 winner, who is already 36 years old, won the Tour de Suisse just over a week ago.

What to expect from the German drivers? There is no man for the general classification. The Giro seventh Emanuel Buchmann, who was even fourth overall on the tour in 2019, is not there and should attack again in the fall. Lennard Kämna, on the other hand, will probably start, the German time trial champion had already convinced with the stage win at the Giro. Nils Politt, who arrives in the jersey of the German champions, is in great form. The man from Cologne had already won a stage last year. Classics specialist John Degenkolb can raise hopes on the cobblestone stage to Arenberg. There is still a question mark behind Maximilian Schachmann after his positive corona test.

What are the highlights of the 109th Tour de France? The big highlight is the twelfth stage, when it goes up to the cycling Mecca to Alpe d'Huez. With 4750 meters of altitude over the Col du Galibier, the Col de la Croix de Fer and the final ascent to the ski station, the king's stage offers real climbing. A total of six mountain finishes await the drivers. But the tour also has a lot to offer. Wind edges on Denmark's coast could cause surprises on the second and third stage. The tough cobblestones of northern France await on Stage 5, which ends at the entrance to the infamous Arenberg Forest. The overall winner should be known no later than on the penultimate day with the 40.7 kilometer individual time trial to Rocamadour. At the start, the first yellow jersey will also be awarded in a fight against the clock over 13.2 kilometers in Copenhagen.

Where is the Tour de France broadcast on TV? ARD is on the air every day from around 4 p.m. during the decisive phase. Until ARD gets involved, live images can be seen on One and sportschau.de on the previous weekdays. In addition, Eurosport broadcasts the stages of the tour.

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