A prestigious acknowledgement for the General Director of the Tour de Pologne.

Prizes, awards and honours are always important for those who receive them, but these distinctions become priceless when they represent official appreciation from a nation and its people. In 2018 Poland celebrated 100 years since it regained its national independence. This important anniversary should remind everyone, not just the Polish people, of the significance of freedom in all its forms. The Tour de Pologne, with all its associated initiatives, was an official part of the calendar of events that contributed to celebrating this centennial.

The “medal commemorating 100 years of Polish independence” is a project initiated by the Polish government to respectfully and gratefully reward those individuals who distinctly stand out their work in various public and social spheres, with special merit for service to the State and society at large. Science, medicine, arts, culture and even sport are all sectors that contributed to the recovery and reinforcement of the Republic of Poland and its national identity.

During a ceremony that took place in Warsaw, The President of the Republic, Andrzej Duda awarded Czeslaw Lang with this prestigious medal, in virtue of his remarkable sports achievements. Lang was recognized not only for the results he achieved as an athlete, which include the silver medal he won in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, but also for the excellent job he has done with the organization of the Tour de Pologne, which is the most watched sports event of the year in Poland after the football championship. Furthermore, the Tour de Pologne has become the most important cycling race in all of Eastern Europe, the only one of its kind in this region that is part of the UCI World Tour calendar.

“I am really very honoured. In 2018 we marked the milestone of 90 years in the life of the Tour de Pologne, and it was an extraordinary edition. This award isn’t only for me, but is shared with everyone who has contributed to this fantastic success. There could have been no greater victory than Michal Kwiatkowski’s. Furthermore, we organized lots of events tied in with the race, including curating the first mobile museum, which for many months carried the history of the Tour de Pologne and cycling culture throughout Poland, giving people the chance to discover the importance of the bicycle and to get to know how cycling has evolved in the last century. This medal testifies as to how sport, and particularly cycling, which is my life, had always held and still holds an essential role in society,” explained Czeslaw Lang, the first Polish rider to race at the highest professional level in the west, beyond the iron curtain, between 1982 and 1989, side by side with other great champions in world cycling.


The importance of cycling in sports and the Polish lifestyle.

2018 has brought another important recognition for the Tour de Pologne and in particular for its General Manager, Czeslaw Lang. The Polish edition of Forbes, the prestigious financial and economic magazine famous for its lists of most influential people, placed Czeslaw Lang among the top spots of the sports section.

The General Manager for the Tour de Pologne came in fifth place on this special list of the most influential personalities in Polish sports. Ahead of him in fourth and third place respectively, we find two ex- ski jumpers Kamil Stoch and Adam Malysz (both winners of World and Olympic medals); Robert Lewandowski, the Polish National football team and Bayern Monaco striker, was in second place. Zbigniew Boniek, current President of Poland’s football federation and ex-player for the Juventus and Roma teams, was at the top of the list.


Czeslaw Lang’s curriculum says it all: silver medal for cycling in the ’80 Moscow Olympics; winner of two World Championship medals in the team time trial (bronze in 1977 and silver in 1979). He was the first Polish rider to race at the highest professional level in the west, beyond the Iron Curtain, between 1982 and 1989, next to champions like Francesco Moser and Giuseppe Saronni. Since 1993 he has been the organizer behind the Tour de Pologne, the most important yearly sporting event in Poland after the football championship; the Tour de Pologne has become the most substantial bicycle race in all of Eastern Europe, and the only event of its kind on this side of the continent that is part of the UCI World Tour calendar. These are the significant “stages” that testify as to how Czesalw Lang was able to build on his cycling experience, first as an athlete and then on a managerial level.

“Besides the personal satisfaction, I am ecstatic because this acknowledgement testifies to the important role that the bicycle and the sport of cycling play in the lifestyle of the Polish people, as well as in Poland’s overall global economy. I believe that the work my staff and I are doing with the Tour de Pologne has been determinative in this process. I’m thinking of the pro race, which over the last several years has contributed to affirming Poland at an international level in the world of cycling, but also of the many events for amateurs and cycling tourists, as well as events for children that we organize annually across the entire national territory. Just this year with the Kinder+Sport Mini Tour de Pologne we got more than 3000 really young riders involved. Now we are hard at work on all fronts for the 2019 edition, and we are sure that the new season will also bring great rewards,” explains Czeslaw Lang.

See the complete list of the most important influencers in the world of sport in Poland:


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!”

75 TDP banquet, fot. Michał Kapusta