The professional cycling pack is an itinerant bunch, constantly on the move from one race to the next, from one country to the next. However, there are two riders with double ties to Poland. We’re talking about two certified authentic Italians, Enrico Gasparotto from team Bahrain Merida and Cesare Benedetti from team Bora – Hansgrohe. What do these two riders have in common? Well, it just so happens that both of them found love in Poland.
“I met my wife Dorotea in Livigno in 2007,” explains the 31-year-old Cesare Benedetti from Rovereto. “She was there training with the Polish National cycling team. When the season ended I came to Poland. I was twenty years old. Before 2007, I had never ventured beyond Italian borders. I flew to Katowice, which was the first city I saw in Poland. Since that winter in 2007 everything in my life has changed.”
Gasparotto’s experience was a bit different. “I met Anna in Switzerland in 2008. She was working for a sport management company. Let’s just say it was love at first sight. We got married 4 years ago in a Country western themed wedding. Everybody was dressed in country western garb. We had a blast.”
Throughout the years the trips to Poland have become increasingly intense.
“When I have time off from the races, I like coming here to Poland with Dorotea and my daughter Janina, who is now two years old,” continues Benedetti. “I’d like to spend even more time here but the problem is that there are no mountains in Gliwice, the town where my wife’s family lives. It’s a big problem for a climber like me. When I go on a bike ride and all I see ahead of me is flatland, I start getting a bit anxious,” jokes Cesare. “I also love the Tour de Pologne. The first time I rode it was in 2013. The race kicked off from my native Trentino. It was very exciting.”
“I also like coming to Poland a lot,” explains the 36-year-old Gasparotto from Sacile. “We come here for a while every year. My wife’s family has a house surrounded by nature near Wroclaw. It’s the perfect place to recharge your batteries after a long season of training and racing. Sometimes I spend hours fishing and relaxing. It’s not bad at all. I also feel a special bond with the Tour de Pologne. I dream of winning a stage in this country. In this edition I’ve come close but I was lacking something in the climbs. In any case, I’m not a climber.”
And how do the two Italians fare with the Polish language and culture?
Benedetti: “I really like the Polish culture and also the cuisine. I speak Polish thanks to my wife and her family. I also got some help from by ex-team mate Bartosz Huzarski. He would do live broadcasts for his fans and he included me in his feeds. Now people in Poland recognize me.”
“My Polish is a disaster,” says Gasparotto. “My wife gets really mad but what can I do? Perhaps after I retire I’ll give it a try.”
There is one thing they both agree on. “Poland is a great nation,” explains Enrico. “The people are fantastic and living is easy. Anna and I really like Krakow. It’s a magical city. We even came here as tourists a few years ago to watch the Tour de Pologne.”
“I feel the same,” concludes Cesare. “Here I’ve found a familial atmosphere and an easy lifestyle. It’s a country that suffered a lot in the past but now it is growing without leaving behind its traditions. It’s a bit like the Tour de Pologne itself!”