Via Cycling News; photos by Riccardo Scanferla
Riders visit Auschwitz before stage six start
Riders of the Tour of Poland had a solemn start to Friday’s sixth stage, with riders taking a stop at the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp to honour the victims of the holocaust.
Before riders departed for the 228.5km stage from Oswiecim to Terma Bukowina Tatrzanska, they took pause to observe a minute of silence at the site of the former Auschwitz II Birkenau concentration camp. One rider from each of the 34 countries represented at the Tour left a white rose at the barbed wire fence as symbol to remember the estimated 1.1 million holocaust victims who were killed at the site in World War II.
The riders also passed by the infamous “Arbeit macht frei” symbol of the Nazi regime. The 16-foot long metal sign was stolen from the camp in 2009 and cut into three pieces by the thieves before it was eventually recovered.
“Auschwitz was the theatre of one of the most tragic pages in the history of mankind,” said Tour of Poland director Czeslaw Lang. “With this commemoration we wanted to try and send a message of universal peace, equality, brotherhood and transnational solidarity. Those are fundamental values that are stronger than linguistic, ideological or religious barriers, and they are the basis of both sports as a whole and cycling. They are values that both sports and cycling can and must help spread worldwide.”