Tour de Pologne is one of the most prestigious international sport events in Poland. This road bicycle racing stage race has already become a national tradition, which gathers best cyclists and sport fans from around the world every year. There are usually seven or eight stages and the whole route is around 1200 km long, leading through picturesque Polish lands.
If you are a sport lover and happen to be in Poland in August, seeing the race live should be definitely included in your itinerary. You can check this year’s edition dates and stages on the official website of Tour de Pologne
A brief history of Tour de Pologne
The history of Tour de Pologne began in 1928, after 25 years from the first Tour de France. At the beginning the majority of cyclists were of Polish nationality and they were mostly amateurs. The first tournament featured only 71 competitors and they had to ride as much as 1 500 km, including one stage of 320 km alone! That’s why it was teasingly called “the race of flat tires”, as it was almost impossible to finish such distance without a defect. Cyclists usually started one stage around midnight and finished it late afternoon the next day.
Instead of nutritious food that cyclists can get from a grip truck at any time, they were stopping at roadside restaurants or were fed by local residents from cities and villages on the route.
Tpur de Pologne was held only six times before the war because of insufficient finances. It was reborn in 1947, when it had its shortest race in history – only 4 stages and 606 km.
During the period of the Polish People’s Republic Tour de Pologne was neglected in favour of a different national event – the Peace Race.
In 1993 Czeslaw Lang (the winner of the 1980 tournament) became the official director of the tour and he still holds the position. He’s been successfully promoting the race, turning it into a prestigious international event.
Tour de Pologne was granted the title of the Best Sport Event of the Year five times and the event is highly recognized by the Union Cycliste Internationale.
Tour de Pologne 2021 – what will change
The official date of the 78th edition of the legendary race is August 9 – August 15, 2021. This time it will look slightly different than usual.
Beside the sanitary regime (that was introduced already in 2020), the route will change quite significantly. This time cyclists will race in the area of eastern Poland and its 3 main voivodeships – Lubelskie, Podkarpackie and Małopolskie. The organizers of Tour de Pologne are planning to stream live transmission in 120 countries. It is a great chance of promotion for those relatively undiscovered regions of Poland, that offer amazing attractions and beautiful terrains to explore.
The route won’t be too mountainous, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to be easier and many find it much more interesting.
Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus restrictions, the race will take place without the fans. This time they will have to support their favourites in front of their TVs.
Krakow – the tradition of Tour de Pologne
Although the whole route of the 2021 edition was altered, nothing can change its traditional finish. Krakow will be hosting the final of the race for the 14th time in a row! Last year’s event in the city won the title of the best sport event of 2020.
Czeslaw Lang, the general director of the race, claims that Krakow is equally important for Tour de Pologne as is Paris for Tour de France. No wonder why – the city is extremely welcoming and always tries its best to make all participants and visitors feel as if they were at home.
The Grand Final will take place at Blonia – the biggest green area in Krakow. It is located near the city’s centre, offering spacious areas with scenic views – with the Kościuszko Mound on one site and the St. Mary’s Church on the other. In 2016 the World Youth Day took place at Blonia, gathering thousands of people from around the world who came to meet Pope Francis there
What to see in Krakow?
If you decide to visit Krakow at the time of Tour de Pologne, you won’t regret it for sure. The city is recognised as one of the most attractive places in Europe, hosting millions of visitors every year. That’s why, after 2020, that was especially hard for touistic traffic, Krakow is trying even more to host all its visitors the best way possible.
August is one of the warmest months in the city, which gives a lot of opportunities to enjoy its summer vibe. Krakow offers plenty of green spaces for walks, bike rides or jogging, including banks of the Vistula River, Zakrzówek Bay, five Krakow Mounds and numerous city parks with Planty being the most popular one.
The Krakow Old Town is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites not without a reason. The number and the significance of its numerous historical monuments is simply astonishing. Starting from the Main Square (with the Cloth Halls, St. Mary’s Church and Town Hall) to the Royal Road leading to the foothills of the legendary Wawel Castle and his main resident – the Wawel Dragon.
It’s also worth to see other districts in the city such as:
- Kazimierz – the Jewish district with historical synagogues and the former ghetto walls. It’s a centre of cultural initiatives and nightlife, full of street art and the best restaurants, as well as the most characteristic street food of the city.
- Podgórze – a historical area with a lot of green and scenic spaces, including the Bednarski Park and the Krakus Mound.
- Nowa Huta – the so-called “ideal socialist city”, that is an example of communist urban planning with regular streets, squares and valleys. It features Nowa Huta Lagoon and is a very attractive space for cyclists.