Guest Article: Giro d’Italia in Denmark

The bunch in Denmark, Giro d'Italia 2012. Photo: Morten Okbo

Morten Okbo joins us on the second rest day of il Giro (even though it really feels like only the first rest day) to tell the tale of the Giro making its start in his homeland of Denmark. Morten is a long-time reader of Velominati, but distinguishes himself amongst our Guest Contributors as also being a contributor for Rouleur, one of our principle muses. Morten is a musician – either by trade or by heart – but finds a way to write and to follow the Grand Tours in person. Stand by for more contributions as the season chugs on.

Morten has also managed to drag his photographer, Jakob Kristian Sørensen, down to our level. This post has been updated to include a second photo album courtesy of Jakob.

Yours in Cycling, Frank

This was in 2010, I think. And it began as a joke. Then a friend on the inside sent an email. Now it was no joke. Absolutely no joke, it read. Frankly, my photographer and I were a little bewildered. Rumours had circulated for a long time but nobody really believed it; Il Giro would start in the city of Herning, Denmark. Listen, I said to anyone who would listen; We’ve already secured the UCI Road World Championships in Copenhagen 2011. There wouldn’t be a GT in Denmark for thirty years now, if ever.

Besides, why would the Italians look to the north in May? Sure, it could be sunny here. Hell, even warm some days. But also with possible thunderstorms. Or howling winds bringing cold weather from (a) The North Sea. (b) The Fjells of Norway or (c) Siberia.

Call Cunego for a comment, I emailed back and got out of the bathtub.

Time passed. Now we hear Monaco is making their bid for the start. Having just spent 10 days in Cannes I thought; Yep, that’s more like it! The slopes of Southern France are perfect because, well, because they ARE! I was getting tired of the whole thing; what were we doing talking about Denmark and the Giro!?

Then it shifted. Word got out that Washington DC was in the race for the start. I laughed. Those silly americans. Do we want jetlagged riders doing a TTT in Verona? Now there’s a rubric. But I was not so sure anymore. It all seemed random now and the race organizers, unlike Le Tour, were never known to be traditionalists.

Of course, Bjarne Riis was looming in the background. The man is born and raised in Herning – cycling city numero uno in Denmark. Also; Riis was wearing his smirk. Everytime the subject came up, Jakob – my photographer – and I exchanged glances.

Fast forward.

Two weeks ago Giro d’Italia arrived in Denmark. There it was. And there was Riis. The smirk. The city of Herning was hosting the start and everything had turned pink. The slogan dropped down from RCS was this; Think Pink! So the people of Herning had painted their buildings pink. Trees. Bicycles, cars. In every shopping window the owners had found something, anything, to spraypaint. 70,000 pink tulips had been planted in every round-about in the city. The local football team changed jersey! Their newspaper look like La Gazzetta Dello Sport? A home for retired people had painted a rollator pink and hung it from a tree!

I’ll tell you what, I said to Jakob as we rolled into town: Our city of Aarhus could never have done this. We are too uptight. Think Museum of Art, The Old Theater, the ridiculously expensive cafees. The University. No. Our city is too big for this. And therefore too provincial.

Jakob said, Did you know that the Giro actually offered our mayor stage 3?

You got to be kidding!

Nope, he continued. But the idiot said no. Apparently it was too expensive. About a million bucks. Then Herning apologized to the Italians who had called back puzzled. Herning then suggested Horsens instead and the first person who picked up the call at City Hall said ‘Yes, thank you very much!’

Oh, god.

_________

And then it was over. For three days the race was here. The public, the media, even the Royal Family embraced this as if Il Giro was our homecoming queen. And then it struck me: Of course! Pink is pork in my corner of the world. Danish bacon. Pick up pork next time you go shopping. The company is called Danish Crown. Crown Prince Pink Pork. 20 million pigs and five million danes were welcoming pink home to the Motherland.

Of course, Il Giro fit right in!

[dmalbum path=”/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/[email protected]/Giro D Italia/”/]

Jakob Kristian Sørensen’s Album:

[dmalbum path=”/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/[email protected]/Giro in Herning/”/]

Related Posts

74 Replies to “Guest Article: Giro d’Italia in Denmark”

  1. Very, very nice! I love Aarhus, but love this line even more:

    Our city is too big for this. And therefore too provincial.

    Brilliant stuff and thanks for the insight.

    I think this is the subtle genius of the two Grand Prix races in Quebec and Montreal over the DC bid for a GT and Richmond’s world championship bid: rather than trying to fit Canada into a GT or a single world championships (which we had in Hamilton in 2003), we have two annual races that are a part of the calendar.

    I’ll be very interested to learn about the aftermath of Il Giro in Denmark, both from an Italian perspective and the Danish one. Was it too far a transfer? And have Herning and Horsens enjoyed the kind of financial benefits of bringing the race north?

    Thanks for a terrific read!

  2. Calling Damiano Cunego from the bath… nice.

    Please tell us you’ve called Andy Schleck while you were having a dump.

  3. Very cool! Thanks, Morten. Would like to see a photo of the local football team in pink.

    Woah, that Wilier TT bike is pretty awesome, and I normally don’t get too excited over TT bikes.

  4. That was a fun article to read, with excellent photos that bring a more personal warmth to the whole thing. That third shot is very cool — the focus on the very focused & determined rider in sharp contrast to the out-of-focus (and also not focused) three guys enjoying their beers, almost oblivious. Thanks for the story!

  5. @ChrisO

    Calling Damiano Cunego from the bath… nice.

    Please tell us you’ve called Andy Schleck while you were having a dump.

    Brilliant. A+1.

    Hard to believe this guy

    is the same as this guy

    and this guy

    Great one, Morten – thanks for contributing.

  6. @Steampunk

    I think this is the subtle genius of the two Grand Prix races in Quebec and Montreal over the DC bid for a GT and Richmond’s world championship bid: rather than trying to fit Canada into a GT or a single world championships (which we had in Hamilton in 2003), we have two annual races that are a part of the calendar.

    Great point.; I’m with you on that. The Corestates US Pro championships has to be the oldest race in North America, but they’ve never managed to really get it on the world calendar. We lost the GP San Francisco which is very sad as well.

    The US has some cities which could offer some INCREDIBLE races (Seattle being one of them) but we’re so fixated on stage races that we miss a lot of opportunity.

  7. @frank
    Sad indeed regarding Philly not attracting all the top teams/riders to consider it a top tier world event – this is such an amazing race to watch live (one I’ve made the six hour drive from Cleveland to for the past 5 years) seeing as the way the course is set up with multiple laps running in both directions on the same roads makes it perfect for US spectators who may not be so keen on a one-and-done style race spectacle that Europeans can embrace. Add in the block party atmosphere of the Manayunk Wall and even people who don’t give two shits about cycling still come out in droves. Lemon Hill has a great vibe about it as well. For anyone for whom it would be reasonably possible to get the race this year, I highly recommend it. I’d love to see more races like this one, though its been on the verge of being cancelled as well until TD Bank stepped in a few years ago. I wonder how long it will last.

  8. Yes, the Toronto Dominion Bank, saving Philly. Where the hell is JP Morgan or CitiGroup? Oh, wait, sorry about that…

  9. Great article. I really dig the “on scene” reports we get here from time to time. Must be fantastic to be there. @frank

    @Steampunk

    I think this is the subtle genius of the two Grand Prix races in Quebec and Montreal over the DC bid for a GT and Richmond’s world championship bid: rather than trying to fit Canada into a GT or a single world championships (which we had in Hamilton in 2003), we have two annual races that are a part of the calendar.

    Great point.; I’m with you on that. The Corestates US Pro championships has to be the oldest race in North America, but they’ve never managed to really get it on the world calendar. We lost the GP San Francisco which is very sad as well.

    The US has some cities which could offer some INCREDIBLE races (Seattle being one of them) but we’re so fixated on stage races that we miss a lot of opportunity.

    While I think that we’re making progress in the US on the Pro UCI scene, you’re right. There are soooo many fantastic venues around the country for some single day races that IMHO could compete with some of the Spring Classics (blasphemy I know). And while most here know my distaste for Pharmy, in a lot of ways, we have him to thank for that. It’ll come in time.

  10. @ChrisO
    @Steampunk

    Very, very nice! I love Aarhus, but love this line even more:

    Our city is too big for this. And therefore too provincial.

    Brilliant stuff and thanks for the insight.

    I think this is the subtle genius of the two Grand Prix races in Quebec and Montreal over the DC bid for a GT and Richmond’s world championship bid: rather than trying to fit Canada into a GT or a single world championships (which we had in Hamilton in 2003), we have two annual races that are a part of the calendar.

    I’ll be very interested to learn about the aftermath of Il Giro in Denmark, both from an Italian perspective and the Danish one. Was it too far a transfer? And have Herning and Horsens enjoyed the kind of financial benefits of bringing the race north?

    Thanks for a terrific read!

    a comment should be in order. so let me see, if i do this correctly. i really want to thank you for your wonderful feed. as a writer i never hear from readers and as a reader i always want to add something to an article and / or shout at the writer.

    so here is your shot!

  11. @Nate

    oh shit! am i thanking everyone personally now? no no, i just saw an article on this site with more than 400 posts. i’ll stop now!

    interesting point about racing in north america. i don’t know why america won’t do those single day races, didn’t lance get 5 mill. to go to australia? surely, someone could generate that kind of money and bring the riders over year after year. i talked much with brian holm about it. he LOVES america because as a rider he never got to go there.

  12. @VeloVita

    @frank
    Sad indeed regarding Philly not attracting all the top teams/riders to consider it a top tier world event – this is such an amazing race to watch live (one I’ve made the six hour drive from Cleveland to for the past 5 years) seeing as the way the course is set up with multiple laps running in both directions on the same roads makes it perfect for US spectators who may not be so keen on a one-and-done style race spectacle that Europeans can embrace. Add in the block party atmosphere of the Manayunk Wall and even people who don’t give two shits about cycling still come out in droves. Lemon Hill has a great vibe about it as well. For anyone for whom it would be reasonably possible to get the race this year, I highly recommend it. I’d love to see more races like this one, though its been on the verge of being cancelled as well until TD Bank stepped in a few years ago. I wonder how long it will last.

    I drove the wall last week when I was there I felt like I do in Europe when I happen upon a legendary road. There is a race with history, and the geniuses who decided American racing was big enough for a dedicate Championship race. It’s not, and we killed the appeal of our biggest race.

    When was the last time anyone considered the US Champ jersey worth winning anyway? Hinapie is the only worthy wearer of it in a decade at least. Pharmy’s win in 1993 was awesome. That was quite a season; Us Pro Champ, World Champ, the Tripple Crown.

    Tour du Pont was an awesome race too. Man.

  13. @frank

    well, frank. the crown prince is frederik, he was there at the giro and i got a great shot of him and the podium girls. his wife, mary, is originally from van diemens land, aka tasmania, he met her at the olympics,

    i think. but have you seen her legs? i’m with marcus here.

    oh. and brian will help you. or he knows someone. i’ll ask him

  14. @Steampunk there was one downside for the Danes that Morten didn’t mention, and it was a slightly tragic one at that.

    The mayor of Horsens was taking part in a promotional ride the day before their stage with the organisers & died of a heart attack.

    It’s a shame Aarhus balked at the stage, some of the scenery out in the woods around the city is absolutely spectacular & would make for great riding.

  15. @frank
    @morten okbo

    I just came across this. It has happened to all of us. But I am pretty sure none of us are the bloke married to the (female) President of Finland. Nor was the subject of our attention a Princess at a state dinner.

  16. @Marcus

    the jewelry. say jewelry if anybody asks!

    but yes, the mayor of horsens died on a small climb outside the city, the giro actually did a minute of silence for him and then one for wouter weylandt. aarhus would truly have been perfect for the giro, a bit ardenne-like. you know the place, marcus?

  17. @morten okbo I don’t think Marcus has ever actually stepped foot outside of Victoria. Mum’s older brother lives just outside Aarhus, my wife & I spent a few days with them late in 2010 and all I can remember when being driven through the forests was that it would make for awesome riding.

  18. @wiscot

    Worth a few minutes of your time: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/video/2012/may/22/giro-italia-stage-17-video

    Interesting, the uphill finishes always hold such a hallowed place in stage races, but the last two years’ Tours have shown us that the stages with a tough climb followed by a good descent are at least as exciting, if not more so. Especially when the favorites just swivelneck up the last climbs and neutralize each other.

    @morten okbo
    As a Dutchman, most American’s think I’m from Denmark. Its insane, how little Americans know about Europe. And then when I point out the mistake, its usually a response somewhere between a quizical look that says, “whats the difference” and “well you should be.” Which just stresses their ignorance of Europe.

    Makes me hate Denmark a bit.

  19. @itburns

    @frank
    I thought the Dutch were from Pennsylvania.

    I know I’m missing your point, but…Pennsylvania Dutch are actually Germans. I think its that someone asked one of them what language they spoke and they said “Deutsch” and someone equally-or-more-so ignorant of Europe assumed they had said Dutch. Whoever it was should have joined Brett and Minion in that bike shop in EnZed.

  20. Great article Morten. Thanks for sharing the inside line on the Giro rolling into Denmark. Disbelief and excitement would be my reaction too. I guess it takes someone like Bjarne (and many euros) to get the Italians to go so far north. Pink tulips, pink newspapers, the Danes embrace this properly. I’m jealous, I’ve never been to the Giro and it’s never coming here.

    It would be embarrassing if it ever came to the USA, it’s a little far for an Italian race, no? We would do a shit job on all accounts. Bikes are an impediment to our way of life in the USA, not a way of life, as it is in Denmark and Holland.

    Jakob Kristian Sørensen’s photos are killer too.

  21. @frank

    @itburns

    @frank
    I thought the Dutch were from Pennsylvania.

    I know I’m missing your point, but…

    Just playing the part of the Ignorant American, so it looks like you were on point after all.

  22. Morten, Jakob,

    Welcome and thank you for sharing your words and images… very cool indeed to have such an insight into the strangeness of Il Giro in Denmark!

    Cheers.

  23. Oh, and I suppose I should mention… I was actually at the Slip Inn in Sydney the night Morten’s Royal Couple met.

    So it could’ve been me.

    Princess of Denmark.

  24. I have a question about Denmark.

    Does this photo represent Danes having “fun”? Because if it is, it looks like they’re doing it wrong.

  25. I just did a Google Image Search for “Belgian Cycling Fan” for an example of how to do it right. It didn’t turn up the expected naked woman, but it did turn up this, and it still serves my point.

    This is how you watch a bike race. You get so drunk you need your buddy to angrily remind you that the cigarette goes in your ass, not your ear.

  26. @frank

    I just did a Google Image Search for “Belgian Cycling Fan” for an example of how to do it right. It didn’t turn up the expected naked woman, but it did turn up this, and it still serves my point.

    This is how you watch a bike race. You get so drunk you need your buddy to angrily remind you that the cigarette goes in your ass, not your ear.

    Is that a fucking Corona in his hand? with a pack of Camels? you sure these guys are from Belgium?

  27. @RedRanger

    @frank

    I just did a Google Image Search for “Belgian Cycling Fan” for an example of how to do it right. It didn’t turn up the expected naked woman, but it did turn up this, and it still serves my point.

    This is how you watch a bike race. You get so drunk you need your buddy to angrily remind you that the cigarette goes in your ass, not your ear.

    Is that a fucking Corona in his hand? with a pack of Camels? you sure these guys are from Belgium?

    That’s actually one of the “lost photos” from the PDX Cogal. And that’s not a cig.

  28. @frank

    Strangely, this came up when searching for “Italian Cycling Fan”.

    I wonder sometimes what they use in the query engine (trying to sound techy smart, I have no idea what that means) at Google. I type in” Washington DC cycling” and this is on the results;

    I’ve been to the nations capital a few times, and I seem to have missed the mountain range there.

  29. @brett

    Oh, and I suppose I should mention… I was actually at the Slip Inn in Sydney the night Morten’s Royal Couple met.
    So it could’ve been me.
    Princess of Denmark.

    I bet you’d look hot in a tiara. Prince’s loss, I suppose.

  30. @frank

    I have a question about Denmark.

    Does this photo represent Danes having “fun”? Because if it is, it looks like they’re doing it wrong.

    God only knows the Danes like to drink. It’s not cheap there but that doesn’t seem to stop them. Maybe the photographer insulted the man with crossed arms by asking if he was German. Or maybe he is wearing a stylish straight-jacket and can’t get a drink to his face. That would make him mad.

  31. @RedRanger

    Is that a fucking Corona in his hand? with a pack of Camels? you sure these guys are from Belgium

    Yeah and I think the other might be a Red Stripe. Per @Scaler911’s observation of the “Query Engine”, I have no clue if they are Belgian, and don’t care. It could be. A guy basically asked me to mary him at Flanders. He was very drunk, and already married. To what I suspect is a woman, not sure though, never saw her. Which was not the only reason I declined.

    Besides, everyone around here knows that if there is such a thing as a query engine, its @Scaler911.

  32. @Jeff in PetroMetro

    @brett

    Oh, and I suppose I should mention… I was actually at the Slip Inn in Sydney the night Morten’s Royal Couple met.
    So it could’ve been me.
    Princess of Denmark.

    I bet you’d look hot in a tiara. Prince’s loss, I suppose.

    You obviously haven’t seen Brett. Believe me, its most certainly NOT the Prince’s loss. After spending the week with Brett basically saying the following (in order), I was more than a little concerned having to share a tiny European “double” bed with him.

    http://www.anyclip.com/movies/along-came-polly/going-to-the-art-opening/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.