Organisers of the 66th Tour of Poland have announced that the 2010 race will pay respect to victims of the Holocaust, with a stage of the event to begin in Oswiecim, near the sites of the Auschwitz concentration camps.
Details of the route of what will be the Tour's penultimate stage were announced on Wednesday on the 65th anniversary of the allied liberation of Auschwitz, a focal point for the horrors of the Nazi regime. On the queen stage of the 2010 race, the peloton will travel 240 kilometres from Oswiecim to a summit finish in Bukowina Tatrzanska.
"We think it’s important to do our part to commemorate the Holocaust," said Czeslaw Lang, General Director of the Tour of Poland. "The spirit is that of remembering in order to better learn from the mistakes of our past, so that tragedies like these on this large a scale can never happen again."
As part of the commemoration, the peloton will ride to the former concentration camps of Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau. The stage will pause at the gates of Auschwitz I beneath the famed "Arbeit macht frei (work makes man free)" sign, where a minute of silence will be observed. A representative from each nationality featured in the peloton will also assemble at the front of the bunch, as a symbol of solidarity with victims of the Holocaust.
"The goal is to communicate a message of universal peace, equality, brotherhood and trans-nationality," said Lang. "These important values are stronger than differences in language, ideology or religion, values that are at the heart of sport and cycling, which we can and must contribute to spreading throughout the world."
The commemorative stage of the Tour forms part of a series of Holocaust remembrance projects that are being developed in the region, including a memorial constructed of stones from all over the world. The area between the two Auschwitz camps will become the base of an International organisation that will conduct multi-cultural peace initiatives.
The organisers of the Tour of Poland are yet to announce details of the remaining six stages of the events. The 2010 edition of the race will take place from August 1-7, with the sixth stage to take place on August 6.
The 2009 Tour of Poland was won by Italy's Alessandro Ballan (Lampre - N.G.C.), ahead of Spaniard Daniel Moreno (Caisse d'Epargne) and Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Columbia – HTC).