The Tour de Pologne kicks off on Saturday July 29th, with the first, 130 km stage in Krakow. In the meantime there were already some important moments today. First, at the Hotel DoubleTree by Hilton there was a press conference featuring the two top riders from team Bora-Hansgrohe, World Champion Peter Sagan and Rafal Majka. Both riders have already won the Tour de Pologne, in 2011 and 2014 respectively. They were with the General Director for the Tour de Pologne Czeslaw Lang. Afterward, in Krakow’s charming pricipal Market Square (Rynek Glowny) there was the official presentation of the teams, featuring a showcase of the riders who will be the stars of the 74th Tour de Pologne UCI World Tour. There are 22 teams:18 Pro Teams plus the 4 Wild Cards assigned by the organizers, and each team will line up 7 riders, for a total of 154 athletes on the starting grid.
“I’m happy to be back here at the Tour de Pologne; we are on the Polish roads close to my Slovakia, so especially for this reason I’m expecting to see and hear lots of fans, and then I’m also anticipating the experience of a good race. I have great memories; my victory in 2011 was tremendously satisfying but also a big surprise. It was a hard-fought race all the way until the final day. That was my first victory in the general classification for a major stage race and one of the absolute best moments in the beginning of my career. That Tour de Pologne helped me a lot to grow as a rider; right afterwards I went to the Vuelta and won three stages in Spain, too. I have wonderful memories of that season. Now here in Poland I am returning to racing after a three week stop; I’m setting off taking on the race day by day, stage after stage. We are lining up a good team here. I think we can have a good race, perhaps with me eying the stages and my team mate Rafal Majka vying more towards the general classification. We’ll see how it is and how we are feeling as we go along,” says the two-time World Champion Peter Sagan.
“The 2014 victory in the Tour de Pologne was very satisfying. Being able to win on the roads of your native country is always exciting. I’m happy to be back here again. The injuries sustained in the Tour de France are behind me now. In the last week I’ve been training intensively and I feel like I’m doing well; perhaps not yet at 100%, but I think I’m in decent enough shape to try and ride a good Tour de Pologne. After my injury I did a lot of physical therapy exercises and I thank the team for their support and for helping me to recuperate quickly so I could be here. It’s a race that means a lot to me. At the Tour de Pologne we are lining up a very strong team; I’m not the only leader, there will be two of us. Peter is here, too, and everyone knows what type of rider he is, capable of doing well and coming up with great moves on any type of arrival,” says Rafal Majka.
“We hope this will be a great Tour de Pologne. There are fantastic riders; we have Rafal Mjaka and Peter Sagan, who have already won here, but I’m also thinking of Vincenzo Nibali and many other champions who will be at the starting line for this edition. We’ve designed the race to be as spectacular as ever; the stages aren’t too long and there is also the new project of 7 riders per team. There won’t be the final time trial, but instead the last leg will be entirely in the mountains, with the two hardest stages in Zakopane and Bukowina Tatrzanska. In the first part there will also be space for the sprinters, but in the third stage there is already a never-before-seen arrival, on a stretch featuring gradients up to 20%, which could turn out to be a launching pad for anyone who wants to try and fire up the race,” explains General Director for the Tour de Pologne Czeslaw Lang.
After the Italian National Championships I got back to training with some good workouts; the team and I were in the mountains to better prepare for the end of the season. Let’s say that this will be a return to racing. The Tour de Pologne is an important race, there are great riders at the start and one of those who will certainly want to do well here is Rafal Majka. I never bet on my goals before the race; let’s see what happens as we go along. I feel good. We’ve been training really well. We’ll have to see how my leg responds after the last intense workouts we did. The route is interesting; there will definitely be some surprises, which perhaps I can’t foresee, but we’ll have to show up ready to take on whatever comes our way,” said Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) after the presentation of the teams.