Official Presentation in Warsaw
Kick off from Danzica with a tribute to Lech Walesa and Solidarnosc – The first historic stage arrival in Slovakia – uphill thrills at Bukowina – Grand finale with the time trial in Krakow.
The curtain rose on the 71st edition of the Tour de Pologne. The official presentation for the 2014 Polish stage race was held on Thursday, April 3rd at 4:00 p.m. at the Hotel Marriott in Warsaw. During the presentation the media and public received all the official details for the 7 stages in the Tour de Pologne scheduled from August 3rd to the 9th, 2014. This race has become a steady date on the UCI World Tour calendar during cycling season’s long, hot summer.
As always, General Director for the Tour de Pologne Czeslaw Lang played host for the event. There were many celebrities attending as guests, including stars from the world of cycling and sports, politics and Polish show business, who were on hand to help baptize the 2014 edition of the Tour de Pologne.
“The 2013 edition of the Tour de Pologne set off from Trentino, with two fantastic and spectacular stages that were held against the magical scenery in the Dolomites, among some of the most beautiful mountains in the world that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites,” explains Czeslaw Lang. “Instead this year the Tour de Pologne will return to a kick off in Poland. After a few years’ absence we are heading back North; the race will set off from the southern coasts of the Baltic Sea, in lovely Danzica, a city that is very important for its historical, business and political background. And it’s not all just about cycling; as always the Tour de Pologne will look beyond the race and as it passes through various places we will try to emphasize all of Poland’s historic and traditional aspects.”
The year 2014 will celebrate 25 years since free elections in Poland (parliamentary elections in 1989). The labour strikes by shipyard workers in Danzica played a fundamental role in this process. These initiatives were organized by Lech Walesa, the founder of the Solidarnosc movement, the first union to declare independence from the Soviet Bloc. Walesa, an extraordinary figure who was at the presentation today, will also be in Danzica on August 3rd to help get the race underway. The start in Danzica will commemorate this anniversary and this extraordinary historical figure, who led the Catholic Workers’ movement through a long and difficult season of confrontation with the Communist regime, going on to become the leader of Poland and bringing to term a peaceful revolution that was able to give freedom back to the Polish people and open the eyes of the rest of the world with new hope.
“Coming in 2014,” continues Lang, “there will be an all new arrival in Slovakia with the 5th stage scheduled for Thursday, August 7th. The stage will start in Zakopane, Poland, and arrive in Strbske Pleso, in Slovakian territory, after 178 km. So the lovely scenery offered by the Tatra Mountains, which piggy back Poland and Slovakia, will provide the backdrop for this stage.”
“As for the rest, the first part of the Tour will be suited to sprinters,” says Lang. “The second stage with arrival in Warsaw will start Torun, the native town of Michal Kwiatkowski and Michal Golas as well as the great astronomer Niccolò Copernicus. The third stage will arrive in Rzeszów, where Thor Hushovd made his mark in 2013; and the fourth stage will be on the fast circuit Katowice where Taylor Phinney won, ahead of all the sprinters, with a fantastic move in the final. Following will be the grand finale, with the reigning stage on the hard circuit at Bukowina Tatrzanska where the climbers and headliners will find space to attack before the conclusive, 25-km time trial in Krakow.”
Our relationship with Trentino remains strong; in fact the official lay-out for the 2014 Tour de Pologne was designed by the artist from Trento Fulvio Bernardini, also known as Fulber, who had already collaborated with the Tour de Pologne last year. In his graphics Fulber unites the race with the history and tradition that distinguish it. His style leads to the creation of unique and interesting artwork for collectors as well as art and cycling fans.
The 4 jerseys from the Al.Ba. Sport label for the Tour de Pologne were also introduced: the yellow will identify the leader of the Skandia general classification, the Tauron cyclamen will go to the winner of the classification for the mountain GPs; the blue jersey will be worn by the most active rider in the peloton and the Al.Ba.Sport white-red will go to the special points classification. There was great enthusiasm on the part of all the official partners who support the Tour de Pologne with passion and commitment, with main sponsor Skandia as the usual standout.
There was also a lot of focus on the many events that traditionally follow the pro race. Among these is the Nutella Mini Tour de Pologne, the event dedicated to the very youngest riders (kids from the ages of 8 to 12) which continues to grow and enjoy increasing success with every edition; this year the project has been expanded with the Nutella Mini Tour de Pologne – Puchar Mlodzików for youngsters 13-14 years old who are registered with a sports association. And lest we forget the Tour de Pologne Amatorów which every year attracts fans to Bukowina to pedal along the same roads faced by the professional athletes in the race.
THE STAGES IN THE 2014 TOUR DE POLOGNE:
Sunday, August 3 – I Stage, Gdansk – Bydgoszcz, 226 Km
Monday, August 4 – II Stage, Torun – Warszawa, 234 Km
Tuesday, August 5 – III Stage, Kielce – Rzeszów, 180 Km
Wednesday, August 6 – IV Stage, Tarnów – Katowice, 232 Km
Thursday, August 7 – V Stage, Zakopane – Strbske Pleso (Slovakia), 178 Km
Friday, August 8 – VI Stage, Bukovina Terma Hotel Spa – Bukowina Tatrzanska, 180 Km
Saturday, August 9 – VII Stage, Kraków – Kraków, 25 Km (individual time trial)
THE STAGES IN THE 2014 TOUR DE POLOGNE:
I Stage, Gdańsk – Bydgoszcz, 226 Km
Sunday, August 3rd
This is a long but completely flat stage that will most likely see the sprinters jostling for the first yellow jersey. It starts off from Danzica, the sixth largest city in Poland with almost 500 thousand people. It will be a highly intense, thrilling kick off; in fact, the peloton will start out from Stocznia Gdanska, the famous shipyard gate, the place where the first strikes sparked the entire Solidarność movement, led by Lech Wałesa, which played a fundamental part in ending the Communist regime in Poland and all of Central Europe. Walesa is lending his patronage to the opening of the Tour de Pologne and will be marking the start of the race with Czeslaw Lang. “Danzica is the key to everything,” said Napoleon Bonaparte in the war of the Fourth Coalition with the Prussians in 1807. In 1939 Danzica was the last city to capitulate to the Nazi invasion of Poland. On March 30th, 1945 the city was “liberated” by the Red Army and the Polish military. Danzica got massacred by bombings and emerged from the Second World War destroyed; in spite of it all it managed to make a come back, becoming the city that symbolizes Poland’s rebirth and the beginning of a new era for all the rest of Europe.
II Stage, Toruń – Warszawa, 234 Km
Monday, August 4th
The second fraction will start off from Torun, an important city under several different aspects. In fact, Niccolò Copernicus, the Polish astronomer who became famous for his heliocentric theories, was born here on February 19th, 1473. The genius and intuition behind the Copernican Revolution led to a new vision of the universe. With rigorous studies and detailed mathematical calculations, Copernicus was able to prove what the ancient Greeks had sustained without any material proof: that the sun is at the centre of a system of orbits of other planets that make up the solar system. Another two stars were also born in Torun; however Copernicus wasn’t lucky enough to have met them. We’re referring to two cycling stars, Michal Kwiatkowski, the Polish champion who has already confirmed himself on the world stage with his important victories, and Michal Golas; both riders are members of the Belgian juggernaut Omega Pharma Quick-Step. This stage will also be long and flat, with arrival in the very centre of the capital, Warsaw, in the Theatre Square (Plac Teatralne). The final circuit will pass in front of the palace of President of the Republic Komorowski, honoured patron of the entire event.
III Stage, Kielce – Rzeszów, 180 Km
Tuesday, August 5th
After the first two fractions, the third stage will descend to the south-central part of the country. It will be a fast, flat stage. Here, too, there will be another chance for the fast riders in the group. It starts from Kielce, an important business hub and the headquarters of the Kielce Expo Centre, which holds second place in the rankings of the most attended exhibitions and markets in Poland. The arrival will be in Rzeszów, an administrative, economic and cultural city centre in the Southeast of Poland. Pope John Paul the II visited the capital of the Podkarpacz region in 1991 during his fourth pilgrimage to Poland. The stage final will be on the same circuit where the Viking Thor Hushovd triumphed with arms raised in 2013.
IV Stage, Tarnów – Katowice, 232 Km
Wednesday, August 6th
High speed thrills. The fourth stage is one of the classic and spectacular stages in the Tour de Pologne. It sets off from Tarnów, a city with ancient history that dates back to the kings of the Piastów dynasty. The centre of the city stands out for its Italian Renaissance-style buildings and is famous for being the hottest city in Poland, with the record number of sunny days. The arrival is in Katowice, one of the largest cities in Poland and a candidate for the title European Cultural City in 2016. Katowice is a town full of students; in fact, there are many young people who study at the University of Economics and at the Musical Academy. The city also features many parks and scenic squares. The stage final offers the traditional circuit where it will become difficult for the attackers to escape the grasp of the sprinters. Katowice is always exciting. Last year Taylor Phinney reached his goal and made it in ahead of the rest of the peloton with a masterful
“finisseur” move; whereas in 2011 Marcel Kittel burned everyone with a record sprint in which he reached a top speed of 78 km/h.
V Stage, Zakopane – Strbske Pleso (Slovakia), 178 Km
Thursday, August 7th
With the fifth stage the 2014 Tour de Pologne will really start to heat up. It will be an all new stage. In fact, the start off will be from Zakopane, a touristic gem that usually serves as an arrival point, in the shadows of the famous ramp for ski jumping. Instead this year the stage will set off from Zakopane to make its way towards Slovakia, where, for the first time in history, the Tour will cross its borders and venture into this neighbouring nation with a 25.4 km circuit that will feature a spectacular final climb with arrival in Strbske Pleso, another famous winter tourist destination. It will be a half-mountain stage with lots of up hills in the tense final circuit that could have a hand in lending a decisive shape to the classification in the Tour de Pologne.
VI Stage, Bukovina Terma Hotel Spa – Bukowina Tatrzańska, 180 Km
Friday, August 8th
With the next-to-last stage the race heads back to Poland. As always Bukowina will be the Reigning Stage in the Tour de Pologne. It starts in BUKOVINA Terma Hotel Spa, a modern spa town in the heart of the Tatra Mountains. The centre is made up of hot spring pools, 4-star hotels and professional spas; it’s the perfect place for anyone who needs to relax and regenerate, far from the stress of the big city. It will be a gruelling stage like the one in the last three editions, with start and arrival in the centre of Bukowina after the riders have taken on a selective circuit, with 10 mountain Grand Prix, five times. Whoever has any strength left and wants to try to dominate the Tour de Pologne will be in the right place here.
VII Stage, Kraków – Kraków, 25 Km (individual time trial)
Saturday, August 9th
This will be a spectacular individual time trial in the heart of Krakow, Poland’s cultural capital. As always, a commemoration to the figure of Karol Wojtyla (the great Pope John Paul II) will write the final chapter in the Tour de Pologne 2014. The many climbs in Bukowina will have left their mark on the legs of the riders and in the classification for the Tour de Pologne, but time trial specialists will still have a chance to try and defend their positions or close the gap dividing them from the dream of the yellow jersey. It will be a different route than the one in 2013, with lots of flatland and the start and arrival in Krakow’s Market Square.
Altimetry and layout: http://tourdepologne.pl/t/etapy/
photo of Czeslaw Lang with Lech Walesa.