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While the opening time trial Friday should be relatively simple for the general classification hopefuls, the other two stages in the Scandinavian country will present plenty of early difficulties. Stage 2, in particular, will see the crossing of the Great Belt strait, which could see winds playing a factor.
Cort will be hoping to use his local knowledge to guide his team leader Rigoberto Urán through safely.
“The stages in Denmark will be challenging. The first time trial should not make too many differences unless somebody has bad luck but the next two days will be hard, with small roads and lots of left and rights and perhaps a bit of wind, very hectic. It will definitely be a risk for some of the GC guys to lose time,” Cort said Thursday in a press conference.
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Cort is one of 10 Danish riders set to race at the Tour de France this season, in addition to the likes of GC hopeful Jonas Vingegaard, Jakob Fuglsang, and Kasper Asgreen. The home riders have been given a hero’s welcome by Danish fans and huge crowds are expected on the side of the road to cheer them on over the coming days.
Winning a stage or taking hold of a classification leader’s jersey in front of a home crowd would be a momentous occasion. Cort is not sure if he’ll be given some time off from team duties while in Denmark but he hinted that he would happily have a go at taking the polka dot jersey if the opportunity arises.
“I’m not sure yet if I will be allowed to go for it, but if I am, I would like to do something in Denmark,” he said. “So far it has been great [in Denmark]. We’ve only had the team presentation and it was huge, especially for the Danish riders. They really cheered us on like never before.”
One thing is for certain, Cort won’t be joining the list of riders targeting the green jersey at the Tour de France. With his skills in the sprint and ability to cope on some of the tougher stages, Cort is well built to be a points classification contender, but it takes an all-race approach to get it and he’s not into that at least for this year.
“I don’t think that will be a possibility so I’m going to have to let the people down,” he said when it was mentioned that some had viewed him as a potential contender for green. “If you’re going for the green jersey you have to be on it from day one and it’s not the plan that I will be chasing points all the way through the race.”
Racing into form
The Tour de France is Cort’s second grand tour of the season after the team made a late call to put him in the Giro d’Italia. EF Education-EasyPost decided to send him to the Italian grand tour in order to give him a solid block of racing after he had broken his collarbone at Tirreno-Adriatico back in March.
He nudged into the top 10 on three stages but never quite managed to break onto the winner’s podium. After four weeks away from racing following the Giro, Cort returned to competition at the Danish nationals last weekend, taking second in the TT and finishing 12th in the road race.
Cort believes he still has a little bit to go before he’s hit his peak and he’s hoping to use the opening week of the Tour de France as a fine tuner for the remainder of the event.
“I think my form is improving. In the Giro I came back from an injury, and I feel even better now. There’s a short break between the Tour and the Giro so it’s hard to be off racing and be at my peak. I have been racing a bit and the plan is to ride myself the last five percent into shape in the first week,” Cort said.
Cort will be aiming to win the second Tour de France stage of his career after his win into Carcassonne from a breakaway in 2018. With the likes of Fabio Jakobsen and Caleb Ewan likely to dominate the flat sprint stages, Cort is looking to the breakaways for his moment in the sun.
“It comes a little bit later, after we leave Denmark,” he said of the stages he’s targeting. “I will try to get into breakaways this year and I think there are quite a few opportunities for breakaways to make it in this year’s Tour de France.”