Tour de France-winner Jonas Vingegaard landed on Wednesday in Copenhagen with thousands of jubilant Danes waiting in the streets where the Tour kicked off nearly a month ago.
“We both took the day off just to come here and celebrate Vingegaard,” said Rene Max Hansen, 29, standing with his brother near the Copenhagen city hall square, where thousands of fans had gathered hours before the Tour winner was due to arrive.
“I bike myself and just managed to persuade my brother to buy a racing bike. The euphoria is contagious,” he said.
Vingegaard, 25, was only the second Dane to win the world’s biggest cycling race since compatriot Bjarne Riis became the first to do so in 1996.
Vingegaard laid the foundations of his victory in the 10th stage of the Tour, when he and his team mate Primoz Roglic attacked rival and two-time winner of the race, Tadej Pogacar, relentlessly and made him crack in the climb up to the Col du Granon.
The 25-year-old Dane sealed the victory when he claimed another win at Hautacam in the final mountain stage.
“It was really emotional to watch him take the yellow jersey and defend it the way he did,” said Miriam Fibiger, who drove across the country form her hometown in southern Denmark to join the celebration.
Wearing a yellow Tour de France t-shirt and yellow bicycle-shaped earrings, Fibiger was queuing up to enter the Tivoli amusement park in central Copenhagen, where Vingegaard will be celebrated later on Wednesday.
“They only let in 25,000, so we want to make sure we get in,” she said.
Vingegaard and his family was flown by private plane to Denmark on Wednesday following celebrations in the Netherlands, home to his team Jumbo-Visma.
When the plane entered Danish air space, it was escorted by two F-16 fighter jets from the Danish Defence, a tradition held to honour gold-winning Danish athletes upon their return.
Denmark hosted the first three stages of the Tour de France, with the first stage a 13km time trial through the Danish capital, known as the world’s most bike-friendly city.
His home town of Glyngore northern Denmark will host Vingegaard for further celebrations on Thursday.