Start location: Vejle
Finish location: Sønderborg
Start time: 12.05 BST
Finish time (approx): 16.12 BST
Hygge is a uniquely Danish concept that justifiably found traction in the self-help section of bookshops a few years ago. There is no single word that it translates into in English - in fact, it took whole books to do so. It describes the cosy, warm feeling that one might have when sipping well whisked hot chocolate, wearing a thick woolly jumper and sitting around a candlelit table with friends when it’s freezing cold outside. Hygge is sometimes described as the defining feature of Danish culture. The Danish tourist office says it “goes far in illuminating the Danish soul”.
Hygge might not initially be the feeling that we call to mind when thinking about cycling, but though the archetypal hygge experience hints at warmth and cosiness when it’s cold outside, it can also be experienced in summer - maybe at a picnic with friends, sipping white wine. The hygge cycling fans experience when they’re watching stage three of the 2022 Tour de France might involve lying on a couch, feet up, cold beer in hand, or sitting in a bar with friends in front of a big screen, where one part of their attention is on the race and two on enjoying the company and experience.
This should be a good day to not feel compelled to watch every minute of the action. Stage two was marketed as a day for potential chaos, with a route deliberately designed to expose the peloton to as much wind as possible (you don’t get more exposed than an 18km-long bridge in a strait between the North Sea and the Baltic). However, the parcours today is far more benign and sheltered, and even the Tour organisation have not talked up the possibility of day-long action. The route is even flatter than the day before, with three classified climbs: the fact that one of them is 800m long and reaches 40m altitude suggests that there’s going to be little to prevent a bunch sprint, other than a miscalculation by the peloton. Modern history suggests that this is unlikely, though very recent history does give the slightest glimmer of optimism - stages at both the Giro d’Italia and Critérium du Dauphiné this year saw breaks hold off a committed chase by the bunch.
The likely scenario, therefore, is a bunch sprint in Sønderborg, and the final bit of island hopping of the 2022 Tour. The city straddles the Alssund strait on the southern tip of the country, just a few kilometres from Germany, and the riders will cross the short bridge linking the mainland and the island just a few kilometres from the finish.
On the subject of hygge, the Danish Tourist board has more to say: “Perhaps hygge explains why the Danes are some of the happiest people in the world.” That said, the happiest person on the Tour will be whichever bunch sprinter masters his rivals to win this stage.
Tour de France stage three map and profile
Although coastal, the route of stage three looks like an easier day on paper for the sprinters' teams to control with less exposure to the elements. The 182km stage features three category four climbs, none of which should provide any problems for the sprinters, but will present an opportunity for someone to take the polka-dot jersey from Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost). The more technical nature of the road will require caution however.
Prediction and contenders
The stage two sprint gives us somewhat more indication of who is and who isn't in-form amongst the sprinters.
While stage two posed a threat of wind, the more twisty and technical roads of stage three poses its own threat. Still a sprint is expected, and it's hard to look past Fabio Jakobsen to double up on Danish stage wins. His Quick-Step team did an expert job in lining him up for his first Tour de France sprint, and going mano-a-mano Wout van Aert it was Jakobsen who came out strongest.
Riding in yellow tomorrow though may give Van Aert that extra boost to turn two consecutive second places into a victory, but there will be a number of sprinters already extra-motivated to find some redemption.
Caleb Ewan failed to feature in the opening sprint but will still pose a significant threat if he can get in the mix in the final kilometre.
Mads Pedersen currently looks best of the rest, but expect to see some resurgence from Peter Sagan, Dylan Groenewegen, and Jasper Philipsen after their top-10 finishes on stage two.
Rouleur predicts: Fabio Jakobsen to take second stage victory