Final test before the World's or crucial race within ProTour?
By Daniel Marszalek
In 1992 Tour de Pologne (originally called Wyscig Dookola Polski) was a moderate race of just regional importance organised for amateurs. Thirteen years later it's a fully professional event with the twenty best trade teams in the world obliged to compete in it.
Since Czeslaw Lang (first professional cyclist from Poland, member of several Italian teams: Gis Gelati, Carrera, Del Tongo and Malvor, between 1982-1989) took charge of this race, it has slowly progressed from an open race (between 1993-1995) via a professional event of fifth (1996-97), fourth (1998-99), third (2000-01) and second (since 2002) category status, before making great jump to the highest level this season when it become part of the ProTour. Such advance ranks the TdP among the ten most important week-long stage races on the international calendar.
The promotion can already be seen in the quality of the field that will compete in the 62nd edition of the Tour de Pologne. Four of the top ten men from the individual ProTour rankings will be present with competition leader Italian Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas), no. 4 Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile), no. 6 American Bobby Julich (Team CSC) and no. 8 Italian Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner). Interestingly, in the concurrently run Vuelta a España, only the last two riders from this elite top-10 list are riding. With at least 50 points at stake and "just" 48 points difference between Di Luca and Vinokourov, the TdP - and the last stage race on the ProTour calendar - might be a very important race for the final standings of this competition.
The 2005 TdP will start on Monday, September 12 in Gdansk at the Baltic Sea coast and will finish on Sunday, September 18, where it has concluded ever since 1999, in Karpacz, a ski-resort in Karkonosze mountains. Gdansk will host TdP Grand Départ on Dlugi Targ street, famous for its magnificent renaissance architecture, for the fifth consecutive time; this time, though, it will happen almost exactly 25 years after creation of the 'Solidarity' freedom movement in the very same city. The parcours, which was presented on March 15 in Warsaw's Sofitel Victoria hotel, keeps with the TdP's modern tradition: a north-south direction, about 1200 kilometres long (1246,5 to be exact - 18 less than in 2004), and divided into eight stages scheduled over seven days.
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