Danes and Norwegians have always been keen cyclists. It’s therefore natural that the world’s largest cycling race, Tour de France, enjoys huge popularity – helped by the fact that over the last few decades, riders from both Nordic countries have notched up memorable and significant victories and results. Is this the golden age for Scandinavian professional cycling?

In recent years, both Danish and Norwegian riders have achieved an impressive amount of success taking into consideration how many professional riders the countries have compared to the huge cycling nations such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain – a reasonable question to ask is if they’re punching above their weight?

The 2024 edition of the Tour de France starts on 29 June. Defending champion Jonas Vingegaard has recovered from several injuries following a horrible crash in the Spanish stage race Tour of Basque Country, which also took down a host of other top riders. The Danish cycling star, who just over five years ago was packing fish at a factory in the Danish North Sea port of Hanstholm, has been cleared to start in the race, with speculation mounting if he can take his third successive Tour de France victory.

Denmark and Norway to shine at Tour de France

Jonas Vingegaard in the Tour de France kit 2024 in studio. Photo: Visma Lease a Bike Bram Berkien

Wild card for Uno-X Mobility

The Norwegian-Danish professional cycling team Uno-X Mobility has for the second year running been given a wild card to the world’s largest and most prestigious and many would argue hardest cycling race. “I think Denmark is around five years ahead of Norway,” Thor Hushovd, former Norwegian cycling star who earlier this year was appointed as general manager for Uno-X Mobility, tells Scan Magazine.

While Denmark is punching well above its weight and is currently ranked second in the UCI (the international cycling body) world ranking, Norway is currently number 13. And where Denmark has three riders in the top 15, the highest-ranking Norwegian rider at number 60 is Alexander Kristoff, a 36-year-old top sprinter at the autumn of his career and one of the big signings by Uno-X Mobility ahead of the 2023 season.

This season he has given the team four victories and several secondary places, resulting in valuable UCI points and propelling the team up the rankings. As a ProTeam, the second division of professional road cycling, UCI points are crucial to help the team fulfil its ambitions of reaching the top flier, the World Tour. The Norwegian team is currently ranked as the world’s 18th best team. To qualify as a World Tour team, apart from meeting financial regulations, they must be in the top 20 at the end of the 2025 season.

Uno-X Mobility was founded in 2016 and turned professional in 2020. The team is owned by the Norwegian conglomerate Reitan A/S, and its sponsors (Uno-X) are fuel stations that can be found in Denmark and Norway. Uno-X sees its support for cycling in line with the business transition towards sustainable transport with investments in ultra-fast electric vehicle (EV) charging, soy and palm oil-free biofuels, and eco-friendly car washing.

From a sporting perspective, Uno-X Mobility has the unique policy of only including Danish and Norwegian riders on its team. This is because the business only operates in the two countries as well as the ambition to create a platform for investing in and developing Norwegian and Danish cycling stars and talents.

Denmark and Norway to shine at Tour de France

Jonas Vingegaard and Wout van Aert training in the new Visma Lease a Bike kit. Photo: Visma Lease a Bike Ellis Heijboer

Scandinavian professional cycling in 2024

The surging interest in professional cycling in Norway and Denmark should be seen in the light of the Uno-X Mobility success story and the fact that for two years running, Denmark has a record amount of professional cycling victories with both countries recording significant results at junior levels.

For Danish and Norwegian riders, the amount of competitors at the top level achieving consistent results and the wide versatility of riders is something not seen before in Scandinavian professional cycling. Hushovd believes the Scandinavian mentality and determination has a lot to do with the success rate.

Both Norway and Denmark have riders that can produce victories in all types of races such as one-stage races flat and hilly, stage races – weekly and grand tours, and time trials. From Norway’s perspective, aside from Kristoff, hopes are high for sprinting star Søren Wærenskjold, who can produce good time trial results. This year, he has four victories so far. Much is also expected of Tobias Haaland Johannesen, a general classification (GC) talent. They all ride for Uno-X Mobility and have been selected for the Tour de France.

In Denmark apart from Vingegaard, Mads Pedersen is the biggest star. The former world champion has so far notched up nine victories, giving him a fifth place in the UCI world rankings. Magnus Cort, who ahead of this season joined Uno-X Mobility, is a fan favourite with his signature moustache and joking grin, and his Instagram series of hotel reviews is part of his popularity.

Denmark currently has 18 riders on the World Tour level and 17 on the Pro Tour level, whilst Norway has eight riders and 25 riders respectively.

Denmark and Norway to shine at Tour de France

Christian Moberg talking to one of his riders at Grand Prix Herning 2024.Photo: Toke Hage

The next line of Scandinavian talent

Michael Skelde is a former professional rider, team owner and now an agent with Skelde Performance with both Danish and Norwegian riders on his books. He tells Scan Magazine that taking the step up to the professional scene is even more challenging for the Nordic nations as its amateur level is often overlooked by professional teams, except Uno-X Mobility. However, he is optimistic that several young riders will take the step up to professional level next season.

Former rider Christian Moberg is now managing the Danish continental team ColoQuick (the semi-professional level below ProTeams), which discovered Vingegaard. To Scan Magazine, he says that his team is the ideal place for young riders to develop. “We are the Danish team with the best organisation as we have permanent mechanics, soigneurs and a large set-up around the riders, so they are perfectly positioned to learn what being a professional rider is like,” the sports director explains.

Preliminary start list for Tour de France

As this month’s issue of Scan Magazine goes to print, the preliminary start list for Tour de France includes eight Danish riders, including Vingegaard, and seven Norwegian riders. All the Norwegians are riding for Uno-X Mobility. However, it’s worth noting that a few teams are still to confirm rosters, so this could still change.

“Our ambition for this year’s Tour is to go for a stage win. Having come so close last year, we have a great chance,“ Hushovd elaborates on the goals of the Scandinavian team. Cort, Kristoff, Vaerenskjold and Johannesen are all strong contenders.

The pragmatic and realistic Danes are often hesitant to call themselves favourites. Before Vingegaard’s April crash, he was the clear favourite to win the Tour de France for a third consecutive year. Having now been cleared to ride, expect this confidence to surge. Skelde, meanwhile, is confident about Danish success, hoping for three to four wins, ideally split between three riders.

Tour de France starts on the 29 June, with the 21 stages lasting just over three weeks with two rest days included.

Denmark and Norway to shine at Tour de France

Thor Hushovd with Magnus Cort. Photo: Szymon Gruchalski/Uno-X Mobility

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