Tour of Poland to commemorate Auschwitz 65 years on
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tour of Poland to commemorate Auschwitz 65 years on

by Ben Atkins at 12:48 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Tour of Poland organisers have chosen International Holocaust Remembrance Day to announce that stage 6 of this year’s race will start from Oświęcim, “the City of Peace” where the Nazi’s built the Auschwitz concentration camps in World War II. The stage is set to be the toughest of this year’s race, travelling 240km to an uphill finish at Bukowina Tatrzańska.

Russian troops liberated the camps in the southern part of the country on January 27th 1945, not far from the borders with the Czech Republic and Austria.  The anniversary of this event was chosen as an international day to remember the victims of genocide, before and since.

“We think it’s important to do our part to commemorate the Shoah [the Hebrew word for the Holocaust - ed],” explained Czeslaw Lang, the Tour of Poland’s General Director. “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.

“The 6th stage will start from the centre of Oświęcim,” he continued, “and the riders will proceed in an orderly, poised manner to the ex-concentration camps Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II Birkenau. Here there will be a break under the sadly famous phrase ”Arbeit macht frei” (work makes man free) and a minute of silence will be observed. A rider from each country will be lined up in the first row.

“The goal is to communicate a message of universal peace, equality, brotherhood and trans-nationality,” he explained. “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 Tour of Poland – or Tour de Pologne – is part of the UCI’s flagship ProTour and will take place between August 1st and 7th. No further stage details have been announced.

The 2009 edition of the race was won by then World Champion Alessandro Ballan, one of only a few victories in an illness-hit season.

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