TDP representation in honour of the Heroes of Monte Cassino
It was an exciting race – our Tour de Pologne team participated in competitions commemorating St. Benedict – the founder of the monastery at Monte Cassino.
The characteristic Tour de Pologne team’s outfits appeared among the leading cyclists. Apart from myself, there was also the silver medallist from the (1976) Montreal Olympics Tadeusz Mytnik, and the regular medallists of the Polish Cycling Championships Sławomir Krawczyk and Czesław Rajch. The organizers had prepared a difficult route – 117 kilometres over hilly terrain, ending with an 8-kilometre climb up Monte Cassino. This is a unique place and I aimed to give it everything I had, to honour the memory of the Polish soldiers who died there. The words engraved on the commemorative obelisks are very touching: “For our freedom and yours, we Polish soldiers gave our souls to God, our bodies to Italian soil, and our hearts to Poland”.
At the start there were more than six hundred riders, including former greats of the international peleton (the main group or pack of riders in a road cycle race), such as the Frenchman Raymond Martin, who in 1980 finished third in the Tour de France. This time the fastest was the Italian Matteo Pascazi, and the best of the Poles turned out to be Piotr Beliński. A sponsor and the head of the ActiveJet group of riders, Beliński took 84th place, and at the finish line said: As I began the long climb up Monte Cassino, the only words in my head were “for our freedom and yours…” And I kept repeating them all the way to the finish line. I too was pleased with the start and the pace of 28 km/h. Besides, I was not concerned so much about the outcome as paying tribute to such an amazing place.