Tour de France’s start in Denmark puts focus on sustainability

Photo credit: TV2 Sport.

By Anders Lorenzen

The world’s biggest cycling race, Tour de France, started today in Copenhagen, Denmark, with a 13.2km fast time trial; the first of the three stages held in the country this year. Several Danish riders will be competing to win the first stage and the yellow jersey and the Danish organisers are keen to showcase Denmark as both a cycling-friendly country as well as a green one, promoting several sustainability initiatives over the three days.

Denmark: a cycling country

Copenhageners use their bikes more than cars, in fact, bikes outnumber cars by more than five to one in the city and nine out of ten Danes own a bicycle. Denmark is keen to keep improving on its already excellent cycling infrastructure; there is approximately 12,000km of bike routes and bike lanes cross-crossing the country. In 2022 the Danish Minister of Transport announced a 10 million Euro investment in further maintaining and improving cycling infrastructure in Copenhagen.

Copenhagen is full of sustainability initiatives, such as a promising and exciting green hydrogen project close to Copenhagen Airport called H2RES developed by some of Denmark’s largest companies and their ‘energy island project’ North Sea Wind Power Hub located offshore close to the Danish island of Bornholm. We have covered both projects and can be found here and here.

Windy conditions and wind power

On day two of the Tour de France, the peloton will embark on one of the most debated stages, crossing one of Denmark’s architectural wonders the notorious Great Belt Bridge. It is notorious amongst cyclists due to its often windy conditions, so splits in the peloton could happen which could have a serious impact on the general classifications in the race. As they ride across the bridge, which connects the two largest islands in Denmark Funen and Zealand, the riders and viewers will witness Denmark’s growing offshore wind industry as the Sprogø Offshore Wind Farm will be visible in the distance. The speed of the turbines on the day will be an early indication of how windy the crossing will be. Today Denmark’s offshore wind industry amounts to 2.3 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity and much more is planned in the coming years and decades. 

On day three of the race, the riders will start off in Vejle, a rugged area known as ‘the Danish Alps’ and finish in the city of Sønderborg, which has an ambitious plan to become zero-carbon by 2029 through its ProjectZero project. Its concept is based on energy efficiency combined with renewable energy from the county’s own green sources. The aim is to develop a world-class showcase for energy savings, best practice mindset, participation, technology, and business. It is one of three Danish cities selected amongst European trailblazers to achieve climate neutrality by 2030.  

The route also passes several solar energy parks, before moving on to Day four in France.

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