The Cycling Embassy of Denmark is ready to greet the approximately 1,500 international journalists during the UCI Road World Championships—and show them how to bike the Danish way.
By Nicolai Willemoes, Danish Cyclists’ Federation
A motorcycle officer in front and a top-level bicycle phantom behind him. Twice, they go around the 23.2 km long individual time trial route in the closed-off streets of Copenhagen. People by the thousands are standing along the route cheering in different languages as the officer and rider whizz by them. A few minutes later, the same scene unfolds to the same excited applause. It is a world championship.
More than cycling
That the Danish capital has been selected to host such a large-scale sporting event is inextricably linked to the bicycle culture that has made Copenhagen and Denmark famous around the world. Here, cycling is not just about the professionals’ battle against time and each other. It is also about the high priority of bicycles and conditions for cyclists.
This has been a central point while planning the week-long championships. From the very beginning, the City of Copenhagen has prioritized using the urban space as more than a backdrop for a championship. When you close off the entire city centre, even if it is just for a couple of days, it inevitably causes crowding and other inconveniences for the people who use the city’s main traffic thoroughfares on a daily basis.
“When such a world event comes to Copenhagen, it is important that it becomes a celebration which includes the Copenhageners and not just the thousands who will come for the sporting event,” says Lord Mayor, Frank Jensen (Social Democrats).
The entire week of the championships will see all kinds of events representing the various parts of the diverse bicycle culture in Copenhagen: from the bicycle parade on the individual time trial route, to cargo bike races for kids, to a sidewalk café in one of the city’s busiest intersections that will be closed off during the championships.
In addition, several schools in Copenhagen will seek to trigger the curious minds of the students by showing them the extent of math problems you can make from something as ordinary and everyday as cycling.
The surrounding municipalities have also noted the possibilities and challenges that such a large-scale event entails:
“We will get so much exposure throughout the country. That is a huge gain for us. But I am a bit concerned about traffic,” says Mayor of Lyngby-Taarbæk, Søren P. Rasmussen (Liberals).
More than 150,000 spectators are expected to come to the area, including around 1,500 journalists from all over the world.
What you see is what you get
The Cycling Embassy has already been contacted by a long list of foreign journalists who want to know what has made Denmark a cycling nation – with a capital C.
Earlier this year, CNN visited to make a series of four features exemplifying ‘cities of the future’ where the bicycle is part of eco-friendly urban planning. The Cycling Embassy not only provided helmets, but also passed on the numerous ideas and initiatives that are currently on the Danish drawing board.
During the championships, members of the Cycling Embassy will be hosting a stand in front of Copenhagen’s City Hall, offering journalists guided bike tours around the closed-off city. The international journalists will no doubt focus on the championships of the Elite Men. But with many activities having a more popular focus, the unique atmosphere of the Danish capital will inevitable fill up a lot of the features, news, and photos that will reach around the globe during the World Championships.
In combination with the many popular activities, this will send a clear message that although the World Championships ‘closed down’ the city, they have also opened the city in new ways to the thousands of people who will be there. And even more people will be following the championships in the newspaper columns and in front of the television.
For further information contact the Danish Cyclists’ Federation/ Cycling Embassy of Denmark
Head of Communication, Danish Cyclists’ Federation, Frits Bredal: (+45) 2947 6704
Coordinator of Cycling Embassy of Denmark, Jakob Madsen: (+45) 4070 8362