As the Director, what is your general impression in terms of sporting prowess of the Race? Were the competitors better this year than the year before?
For many years now the sporting prowess of the race has been significant. This is one of the most important stage races for Orliki [small eagles] in Europe. It is not an easy feat to suddenly raise its level, which has been invariably high since at least 2014 when it returned to Hungary. It is worth pointing out that there are more teams which have been rejected that those which have been accepted for the race. It is also worth pointing out that I had eight enquiries each from Italy and the Netherlands – countries renowned for churning out outstanding cyclists. Out of those I approved two teams from Italy and three from the Netherlands. And these teams were the main powerhouses of the race.
Were there any surprises at given stages or in the final results?
Good riding by the Dutch, the Italians and competitors from Austria was to be expected. Poles also gave us something worth cheering for: Marceli Bogusławski, representing Poland won the prologue and Staszek Aniołkowski riding in CCC colours won two stages – to Jabłonka and the final stage to Papa. Slovenes (advancing jersey for Jaka Primozic) and Czechs (best sprinter: Tomas Barta) did not let us down either. It is noteworthy that the winner of the 36th CR, Marijn van der Berg from the Netherlands, also won three out of the six individual classifications: general, points and cyclists up to 21 years old. And his team – METEC TKH – won the team classification. I would like to emphasise that each and every competitor who made it to the finish line in Papa is a master road cyclist – the weather conditions towards the end of the competition were truly extreme.
And what is your opinion on the safety and general organisation of the race?
I have to say that throughout the race the routes were prepared and secured really well with ample hotel infrastructure across all three countries. Crashes do happen during races – and this one was no exception – three riders were taken to hospital. The health service was up to the job. There were no accidents involving support vehicles, which is not a given with such a numerous column of cars travelling over a few hundred kilometres during and between stages. I am particularly satisfied with the safety record over the six days of the race.
Was this race any different from the previous ones?
It is hard to imagine, but after 44 years, this was the first time that the race in Poland crossed the historic and administrative border of Małopolska. We can now add more regions to the couriers' route. For me, the return of the race to Poprad is particularly important. For years, Poprad and the High Tatra Mountains set the bar really high for the "Couriers". And I would like to keep it that way. However, first and foremost, for the first time the Polish-Hungarian Cooperation Institute was our main partner, and Wacław Felczak was the patron of this year's race. In my opinion it is hard to imagine a more cohesive mass event in the historical, sporting and youth cooperation strata.
How will the experiences from this year affect the plans for subsequent races?
This year's experiences have taught us to establish good cooperation with Slovak and Hungarian partners. It would also be good to return to the full Visegrád race format. And to that end I will shortly be going to meet potential Czech partners. Next year will be the 45th anniversary of the race, and as such I hope that together with the Wacław Felczak Institute we will be able to do something extraordinary. The idea is in place already.
Interviewer: Marcin Bąk.