Procycling

A CHANGE IN FORTUNES

Something happened in June of 2017. Something new, something forgotten. A feeling in Danish cycling, a rapture not experienced since the golden 1990s.

The 2000s were meagre years for the Danes. Michael Rasmussen got close to something big before he was thrown out of the 2007 Tour. Matti Breschel kept hopes of a Danish world champion alive with his 2008 bronze medal and Nicki Sørensen’s stage win in the Tour de France of 2009 was grand, but alas, not much more came of it.

The 2010s started better. Breschel won Dwars door Vlaanderen in 2010 after a solo attack on the dry and dusty roads of Flanders, and took home a silver medal in the autumn at the worlds. Better now. Good results for a small nation, but there was a feeling of pent-up ambition. We had expected more. We had seen Bjarne Riis, Jesper Skibby, Rolf Sørensen, and Brian Holm winning the greatest races in the world. But we were also tired of living on results from more than 20 years ago.

That’s why it was a good omen when, in June 2017, Jakob Fuglsang won the sixth stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné and then two days later the eighth, securing the overall victory on the Plateau de Solaison. Something had been brought to life, but the question is: hadn’t it been coming for a while? Things had been stirring slightly already in 2016.

MARX VHEGEL

The sun is shining in Sonoma County, California. Brian Nygaard – former cycling commentator, Team Saxo Bank press officer, and current general manager at the Stuhlmuller Vineyards – shows me around the grapevines at the height of the Californian spring. It’s happening through a flimsy FaceTime connection, but there’s no doubt that this man, who sat in the inner circle of pro cycling, is in his element.

But I haven’t called Nygaard to talk about wine or beautiful landscapes. We’re going to talk about generations, and why Denmark is seeing such great cycling results right now.

“People are forced into a generational narrative, even if they have nothing in common. I’m going to get a bit egg-headed now, I warn you. But that’s the difference between Marx and Hegel. You either follow Hegel in seeing history as a common denominator that makes everything land in a specific place. Or you follow Marx: that everything is an interplay between historical facts and material conditions. I subscribe more to Marx’s theory.”

Nygaard has an MA in philosophy, and he’s probably right. Maybe no one homogenous story can be told about a zeitgeist which created a

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