The center of Copenhagen was shut down Friday ahead of the start of the Tour de France as riders prepared to tackle the first leg 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 downtown, with rain forecasted that could make part of the stage treacherous — especially the stretch across the square of Amalienborg Palace, the main residence of Denmark’s popular royal family, which is paved with cobble stones. The time trial, a race against the clock that sees the riders set out one by one in intervals, will also go past some of Copenhagen's other best-known landmarks, including the Little Mermaid statue, sitting on her perch at the entrance of the harbor.
Earlier Friday, Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik went for a ride along the route.
“I have just ridden the route by bike. It is great to see the great support for the tour at home,” said the 54-year Frederik, sporting a helmet, shorts and a t-shirt. The palace also published on Instagram vintage photos of Danish royals riding bicycles, including Frederik’s great grandfather, King Christian X and the current Queen Margrethe.
The three-week race includes two more stages in Denmark, including crossing the Great Belt Bridge that links the Zealand island, where Copenhagen sits and the central isle of Funen.
The start in Denmark — the 24th time that the race has started outside of France — was supposed to be held in 2021 but was postponed a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
After the Danish stages, the riders travel to France with a stage between Dunkerque and Calais.
Last year, Slovenian rider Tadej Pogacar won the Tour for the third straight time and he is a firm favorite to defend his title. The race ends in Paris on July 24.