The center of Copenhagen prepares for the start of the Tour de France

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Belgium’s Wout van Aert, front right, and Sepp Kuss of the United States, center, and Jumbo Visma cycling teammates ride during training near Copenhagen, Denmark, Thursday, June 30, 2022. The Tour de France cycling race begins on Friday July 1, with the first stage, an individual time trial over 13.2 kilometers (8.2 miles) with start and finish in Copenhagen. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

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The center in Copenhagen was closed on Friday before the start of the Tour de France as riders prepared to tackle the first stage of the race, an individual time trial through the Danish capital.

Large areas along the 13 kilometer (eight mile) route were closed in the normally busy city center, with rains which could make part of the stage dangerous – especially the stretch through Palace Square of Amalienborg, the primary residence of Denmark’s popular royal. family, which is paved with cobblestones. The Time Trial, a race against the clock that sees runners starting off one by one at intervals, will also pass some of Copenhagen’s other best-known landmarks, including the Little Mermaid statue, sitting on her perch at the harbor entrance. .

Earlier on Friday, Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik went for a drive along the road.

“I just cycled the course. It’s great to see the great support for the tour back home,” said Frederik, 54, wearing a helmet, shorts and t-shirt. The palace also posted vintage photos of Danish royals riding bicycles on Instagram, including Frederik’s great-grandfather, King Christian X and current Queen Margrethe.

The stage starts at 4:00 p.m. local time (2:00 p.m. GMT).

Some locals got up early to get a good spot along the road, including Grethe Dalsgård, 77, who told Danish broadcaster DR she arrived around 7.30am and was standing about 20 meters from the line. arrival near the city. Hall.

“I’m sure I’ll be able to see them all,” Dalsgård told DR.

The three-week race includes two more stages in Denmark, including crossing the Great Belt Bridge that connects the island of Zealand, where Copenhagen is located, and the central island of Funen.

The start in Denmark – the 24th time the race has started outside France – was due to take place in 2021 but was postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After the Danish stages, the riders go to France with a stage between Dunkirk and Calais.

Last year, Slovenian rider Tadej Pogacar won the Tour for the third time in a row and he is a strong favorite to defend his title. The race ends in Paris on July 24.

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