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Why does the 2022 Tour de France start in Denmark?

You’d think the world’s biggest cycling race that’s named after a single country would be a one-nation affair. But you’d be wrong.

Aerial view taken with a drone on June 23, 2022 shows a land art work featuring a cyclist riding with the flags of France and Denmark on his wheels along the route of the 3rd stage of the Tour de France cycling race, in Jutland, Denmark. - The first three stages of the 2022 Tour de France will take place in Denmark before the race moves to France. Photo by MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

There are three major events in professional cycling stage races, and they are known as the Grand Tours in cycling. The Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy) is held in May, while the Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain) is in August and September. But the biggest race in the world is the Tour de France, held each July in ... well, not always France.

Each of these slightly-over-three-weeks events has 20-22 stages with a couple rest days added, but the borders aren’t fixed by nation. Since 1954 Le Tour has on occasion started outside L’Hexagone, with race director Christian Prudhomme having said previously they’d like to start the race outside of France around three out of every five years. The race will start in Bilbao, Spain in 2023, with rumors of Italy the following year .to avoid a conflict with the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

In 2022 three stages will be held in Denmark including the 13.2km (8.2 miles) Stage 1 time trial in Copenhage. A time trial is also known as a “race of truth” since cyclists leave the starting house every 60 seconds and are without teammates, strictly being timed against the clock. One of the roads being used for Stage 1 is named after former UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, one of history’s most well-known Danes who was killed in a plane crash on a peacekeeping mission in 1961.

Stage 2 will be from Roskilde to Nybor for 202.2km (125.6 miles), and Stage 3 is from Vejle to Sønberborg and will be 182km (113.1 miles). Look for plenty of wind during Stage 2, which should be one of the more difficult non-mountain stages of the race.

Here is a complete list of all cities and countries that have hosted the start of the Tour de France that are not inside the host nation borders.

1954: Amsterdam, Netherlands
1958: Brussels, Belgium
1965: Cologne, West Germany
1973: The Hague, Netherlands
1975: Charleroi, Belgium
1978: Leiden, Netherlands
1980: Frankfurt, West Germany
1982: Basel, Switzerland
1987: West Berlin
1989: Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
1992: San Sebastián, Spain
1996: Den Bosch, Netherlands
1998: Dublin, Ireland
2002: Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
2004: Liège, Belgium
2007: London, United Kingdom
2009: Monte Carlo, Monaco
2010: Rotterdam, Netherlands
2012: Liège, Belgium
2014: Leeds, United Kingdom
2015: Utrecht, Netherlands
2017: Düsseldorf, Germany
2019: Brussels, Belgium
2022: Copenhagen, Denmark
2023: Bilbao, Spain