Book Extract: Magnus Cort on his summer of success at the 2022 Tour de France

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Magnus Cort was one of the star players of this 2022 Tour de France.

The EF Education-EasyPost rider wowed fans in his native Denmark with his daily attacks and spent a week in the polka dot jersey. Unfortunately, he added a stage victory to his Tour de France journey before he had to leave the race with COVID-19.

In this excerpt from “The Road Book 2022,” Cort relives Demark and his successful summer in France. Released in 2018, The Roadbook is an annual in-depth look at cycling season with data from men’s and women’s WorldTour races, trials and more.

The Roadbook 2022 is available for purchase online.

I don’t have any particular memories of the Tour de France but I do remember it as part of the summer holidays, watching it on TV and it was always the battle between Armstrong and Ulrich. I was only three years old when Bjarne Riis won, but I heard about it and heard about it a few years later. I had a Telecom jersey when I was a very young child. I had it for a long time since you can’t get it that small so I could wear it for years.

I don’t remember when I heard about the big departure in Copenhagen, but it was quite a while ago. I really don’t know what I was expecting but I knew it was going to be big, lots of people watching on the roads and on TV, lots of people driving and watching the scenes. I expected people on the roads in Copenhagen, but it was wilder than I expected – especially in the time trial and the noise they made all the way through.

Going to the Giro before the Tour wasn’t planned from the start, but I broke my collarbone and then doing the Giro and the Tour was a possibility. If I hadn’t done the double a year ago and had done really well in the Vuelta, I don’t think the team would want me to do that, and I would also like to focus on the Tour, but from the previous year I didn’t feel like doing the Giro could be a really good way for the Tour, so it’s probably bad it was nothing.

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I think the Tour de France is so big now that you always want to be there and I always want to do my best. There’s nothing I can specifically try and do more than I’ve done in previous years, but as I got closer, I wanted to do something on the stages in Denmark. There were some sprints but they were going to be decent group sprints and it wasn’t going to be easy but then Charly [Wegelius] I thought about it and we saw how it went in the time trial and after that he said I gave the green light to go if I wanted to. So I was really happy that I was allowed to do this.

Almost all of my family was there for the presentation and my parents were there for the scenes in Denmark. They were stopping on the first road stage, right after my last uphill run. I knew they were going to be somewhere but I wasn’t looking for them because there were so many people on the road but when I crossed the KOM line there and congratulated it it was funny because I saw them right after. It was nice to have that moment with them.

Roadbook 2022 (Photo: Peloton Summary)

I think I had a really good day there. After doing the first two sprints, I knew the jersey was safe for the day, and then I was thinking about what I could do in the last sprint. The fans were giving a lot and I was very motivated to win the mountain jersey for the day, so I thought why not give something away. It wasn’t a break that we tried or expected to get to the finish line, so in a way everything went perfectly for me and I was happy. It was like a victory for me.

Being on a break by yourself is quite different. In stage 3, even though I was in Denmark and there were a lot of spectators and I knew I had a mission there, it was still a long day and a bit boring. No, just kidding, I was happy. Looking back now, I really liked it. I knew I wanted to go out again during the break and attacked directly with a gun. No one was with me and I was actually quite happy to go out alone. I did not expect that.

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I had hoped for an easy escape, but at the same time, I was prepared for the worst possible fight. The first goal of the day was to take a break and then, when alone, it’s pretty easy and calm. It was pretty crazy to go alone to the first town with such a large crowd, to the shouts of the crowd. This was pretty special. Some memories stand out, like the first two mountain sprints, the two most important. It was really intense, suitable hard sprints and effort. It was three days I will remember. Race against the clock and ride alone that day.

It was my plan to try to win stage 10. I thought it would be very difficult for me to finish but it wasn’t impossible, it wasn’t too steep on the final climb. It was a long struggle to get into halftime. You’re already tired and when you take a break you say ‘OK, the day starts now’ but I think it was the same for everyone. It’s hard to tell when a break will start when there are multiple peaks but it definitely took longer than I thought that day. It was pretty obvious for most of the day that the hiatus was going to end. When it’s one of those classic breakup scenes, you feel it in the group. Almost every team had someone in it, and I remember the time gap was slowly getting bigger for most of the day. I didn’t expect any energy expenditure to bring him back.

It was quite difficult because we had just started racing before we got to the protesters. We went straight ahead but then the race organizers stopped us on the other side of the protesters because they couldn’t get past their cars, so everything had to be rearranged before we could start again. Then I had a flat tire I didn’t realize I was stopping but when we hit the road again I was sitting on a flat rear wheel and there was no car behind me so there was a momentary panic to get them there. Wait by the roadside so I can get a new wheel.

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The first episode was pretty simple, with Bettiol in the front – I was just sitting, following the wheels – then we caught him and he did a few attacks before he was done and then I was alone. I thought the win was out of my hands – Sanchez made a good attack and walked away and made a few more, but I was on my limit. I had to give up the acceleration a bit and crash a few times, but then, when we got back to the straight finish at the airport, it all came together again.

I didn’t think too deeply about it for the last few kilometers because I thought the win was gone, but then it felt a little downhill and a little flat and I was behind the wheel. I was going with all my might, the men I had caught were waiting for a while and looking at each other. With a few hundred yards left, I knew a finish like this would be good for me. I remember arriving left-handed, looking directly at where the VIPs were sitting, and thinking, ‘I need to dig deeper now’. I didn’t know when I would get a chance like this again.

I think the first victory on the tour is always different, but it’s still huge for my career. It’s still huge.

Leaving the race was a huge disappointment. It’s not the first time I’ve finished a Grand Tour. I’d like to continue if I could, but that’s how it is. I’m not going to gain anything by losing myself and throwing a chair, so I stayed pretty calm and went home and got upset about it. It’s just part of the game.


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