Danish fjords, mermaids and sea-bridges on 2021 Tour de France itinerary

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Vejle (Denmark) (AFP)

Precise details of Copenhagen's 'Grand Depart' for the 2021 Tour de France were confirmed Tuesday with three days of 'panoramic' racing to showcase the beauty of cycling mad Denmark.

News of the Danish itinerary was first revealed by local organisers a year ago. On Tuesday ASO, which operates the Tour, officially confirmed the route and offered exact details.

Danish Industry Minister Simon Kollerup described "cobbled cities, wavy yellow fields and tourist attractions that tell special stories about Denmark," along the three-day route which marks the most northern excursion of the Tour de France.

"The race takes in a staggering panorama," ASO president Christian Prudhomme said. "The first three stages will showcase the landscape of Denmark and could produce a wide range of racing scenarios."

The announcement has been somewhat overshadowed by the news at the weekend of an investigation into Denmark's top cyclist Jakob Fuglsang.

Danish cyclist Bjarne Riis won the Tour de France in 1996 and bikes appear to be part of the national identity.

- A racing compendium -

On the 13km individual time-trial opening stage on July 2, through pancake flat downtown Copenhagen riders will speed past the city's iconic Little Mermaid statue, created in homage to the fairytale writer Hans Cristian Andersen.

The peloton crosses 18 kilometres of bridges, including the Great Belt Bridge on stage 2, and crosswinds could create havoc.

The stage by turns goes through vast pastures and hugs the coast on a 199km run from Roskilde to Nyborg.

A bunch sprint looks likely at the end of a scenic 182km run from Vejle to Sonderborg rolling alongside fjords on the final day.

"It's going to be a celebration for Danes everywhere in our streets and on the country roads," said Copenhagen mayor Frank Jensen.

"At the same time, we get to show our beautiful cycling nation to the whole world," he said of the potential boon to tourism and industry the nation hopes to attract by hosting the race.

Prudhomme said the excursion into Scandinavia would also provide a platform to the athletes.

"Power riders, breakaway experts and sprinters will all get a chance to shine — it's a compendium of bicycle racing on flat terrain."

The 21-day Tour de France frequently embarks from a foreign city with Brussels in 2019, Dusseldorf in 2017 and Yorkshire in 2014 recent succesful excursions outside France for the event.

The 2020 edition starts in Nice.