Interview with Ursula Riha-Kocher responsible for international relations and cooperation with teams
How long have you been working with the Tour de Pologne?
This is my sixth Tour de Pologne, but I’ve been involved in cycling race organization for over 30 years. I’ve organized the Tour of Austria, for example, for a long time and, because of my duties, I was also a member of the Management Board of the International Association of Organisers of Cycling Races (AIOCC). At one of the General Assemblies I met Agata Lang and she invited me to Poland.
Which event is more difficult for organisers, the Tour de Pologne or the Tour of Austria?
Even though the Tour de Pologne is classified in the UCI World Tour and the Tour of Austria is one rank lower, the organization of each cycling race is very complex. Riders compete on roads, not on stadiums. The route of a 7-stage-race is more than 1,000 km long and it always brings lots of unforeseen situations. Organisers have to be able to deal with them. At the same time, they must make sure that riders, spectators and those not interested in the race are safe. Securing the financial resources for the whole project is another major challenge. Poland and Austria have similar landscapes and geography. In both countries organisers have to be prepared for heavy rains, strong winds, heat, sometimes even summer snow in the mountains. And, last but not least, this year we also have restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which didn’t make the organization easier.
How has the Tour de Pologne changed since you started to work in Poland six years ago?
The quality of Poland’s roads has certainly improved a lot. The organization of the Tour itself has changed as well. It’s become more international. The Tour de Pologne is without any doubt a great international top-class event. I would also like to emphasize one important thing that makes the Tour de Pologne different from other major races. Lang Team, a company that organises the Tour, is a family business. It is very professional, just as organisers of other tours. Yet, you can sense a true family atmosphere here. I really appreciate my collaboration with the Lang family.
Do you remember a funny story that happened to you during Tour de Pologne?
As a person responsible for cooperation with teams I sometimes have to step into the role of a babysitter a bit [laughs]. Teams turn to me with all kinds of stuff, sometimes really surprising. And I do, of course, help them with pleasure, even in the most unusual matters. Yes, I really like to do this kind of “job”!