The route of the 68th Tour of Poland has been announced, with a course that aims to encourage spectacular racing.
The seven-stage race sees the flat stages reduced in length, to between 100 and 130km, on city centre routes designed for fast, technical racing and attacking from the start. At the same time, the mountain stages will be more difficult than in previous years, with two key days where the general classification will be decided.
The first stage, on Sunday 31st July, runs from Pruszków to Warsaw, the capital city of Poland. The riders will then transfer by aeroplane to the south of the country for the remaining six stages.
The two key days for the climbers come towards the end of the race – Stage 5, Zakopane-Zakopane, five laps of a 43 km circuit, and Stage 6, Terma Bukovina- Bukowina Tatrzańska, a 207.7km stage including four laps of a 46km circuit.
The Tour will remember the life of Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II, and who will be beatified by the Catholic Church on May 1st, with Stage 2 passing the Jasna Gora Sanctuary, the famous monastery of the Czestochowa Black Madonna.
It will also celebrate the first time Poland has taken the European Union Council Presidency since the country joined the EU in 2004.
“It's a matter of pride and satisfaction for the entire nation and the Polish people, who've come to think of themselves as European citizens”, says Tour Director Czeslaw Lang. “In the last few decades Poland has come a long way politically, historically and culturally. War, Soviet occupation, Communism and the division between East and West are in the past. Fortunately the walls have come down, and in this slow yet inexorable process of globalisation and popular fellowship, sport has always played a vital role in promoting such values as unity and brotherhood among different populations."
Tour of Poland, July 31st – August 6th, 2011
Stage 1: Pruszków – Warsawa
Stage 2: Częstochowa – Dąbrowa Górnicza
Stage 3: Będzin – Katowice
Stage 4: Oświęcim – Cieszyn
Stage 5: Zakopane – Zakopane
Stage 6: Terma Bukovina- Bukowina Tatrzańska
Stage 7: Kraków – Kraków
Further details are available from the Tour of Poland's Facebook page.