From fish freezers in yellow to Paris. The Danes used to know the mother-in-law of the sensational Tour star

The Tour de France, full of emotional personal stories, ended with the triumph of Jonas Vingegaard. A man who would hardly have thought of such success a few years ago while working with fish. So far, television viewers in Denmark have mainly devoured the culinary art of his mother-in-law, but now the twenty-five-year-old cyclist has asked for attention. “I will want even more,” he said after the victorious Tour.

The Tour de France, which visited Denmark for the first time in its history at the start, entertained the riders with various stories. In the beginning it was the local Magnus Cort Nielsen, who was on the run every day and rode in the jersey of the best mountaineer. He then continued to be extremely combative in France.

The Dutch Dylan Groenewegen and Fabio Jakobsen, who collided in a serious and almost tragic accident in August 2020, finished for the stage laurels. Olympic mountain bike champion and cyclocross world champion Tom Pidcock won on the famous Alpe d’Huez hill.

The Canadian Hugo Houle, in turn, dedicated his surprising triumph to his late brother, who was hit by a drunk driver ten years ago while running.

And in the end, Jonas Vingegaard won the battle for the overall championship. In two key stages, he broke the seemingly invincible Tadej Pogačar. Whenever the Slovenian attacked, he was immediately on his heels.

“It’s just unbelievable,” breathed the 25-year-old Dane on stage in the center of Paris. “I won the biggest race in the world, now no one will take it away from me,” he said happily with his two-year-old daughter Frida in his arms.

In Paris, Frida also met Pogačar, her father’s main rival on the Tour. | Photo: Reuters

At the same time, even four years ago, a relatively large question mark hung over the professional career of the native of the town of Hillerslev.

“I finished school in 2016 and had to look for a job. Until the summer of 2018, I worked in a fish processing company,” the Dane once recounted. His cycling colleague Michael Valgren helped him find the brigade.

He helped out at fish auctions where he checked boxes of merchandise. Later, he cleaned the fish catches and stored them in ice boxes. He didn’t sit down to train on his bike until the afternoon, after his shift in the cold.

In 2019, an offer came from the Dutch world tour team Jumbo-Visma, where Vingegaard transferred from the continental Danish stable ColoQuick.

However, a significant breakthrough did not come immediately. In the race for the Danish champion, he was not even in the top twenty, at the Vuelta 2020, his first Grand Tour event, he took the forty-sixth position. He really caught the attention of France last year.

After the resignation of injured leader Primož Roglič, Vingegaard became plan “B” for Jumbo-Vism. He took the opportunity of a lifetime to take an excellent second place, in one climb he even shook off the otherwise sovereign Pogačar.

At that time, however, people in Denmark knew his mother-in-law Rosa Kildahl, who became famous in the television cooking competition “The Great Danish Bake Off”, much more than Vingegaard.

“The whole of Denmark knows her,” said Vingegaard’s mother at the Tour last year.

Kildahl appears on cooking shows and has 38,000 followers on Instagram. At least in this direction, her son-in-law has already far surpassed her after the victorious Tour, he is followed by almost 300,000 fans on Instagram.

At the finish line, the modest and introverted Dane mainly thanked his teammates. Roglič, Pogačar’s main challenger, failed to finish the Tour again, Steven Kruijswijk also had to finish early.

Nevertheless, the Jumbo-Visma stable experienced a fairytale race in the end.

Vingegaard won the yellow and polka dot jersey, his Belgian teammate Wout van Aert completely dominated the scoring competition. He won three stages, including the time trial, and in addition significantly contributed to the “cooking” of Pogačar during the ascent to Hautacam.

The five Vingegaard, Van Aert, Sepp Kuss, Tiesj Benoot and Christophe Laporte then enjoyed the finish on the Champs-Élysées together. They crossed the finish line in a shoulder hug.

“I’m going to celebrate and also rest. I’m looking forward to spending a week on the couch,” Vingegaard smiled. “Then I’ll want even more,” he added shortly.



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