A total of twenty-two teams, including three from the World Tour, Czech number one Jan Hirt and other strong cyclists from all over the world. This is the SAZKA Tour 2022, the largest stage race in the Czech Republic, which will take place from Thursday to Sunday mainly in the Olomouc and Moravian-Silesian regions. Italy's Filipo Zana will be defending his victory, while 2020 overall winner, Damien Howson from Australia, will also be at the start. Cyclists ride over 700 kilometres and climb more than 10,000 metres.
The organizers have also managed to arrange the participation of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, the team for which the current domestic number one, Jan Hirt, who finished sixth overall at this year's Giro, rides. He will be joined by teammates Domenico Pozzovivo from Italy and Estonian Rein Taaramäe. Pozzovivo was eighth overall at the Giro this year, and Taaramäe has won stages at both the Giro and the Vuelta during his career. Another interesting name on the start list is Australia's Cameron Meyer, a nine-time world champion in track cycling who now races for Team BikeExchange – Jayco.
“I think that we have something to look forward to. Lining up at the start will be many elite World Tour cyclists including the Czech number one. They are going to be racing from the start to the finish,” says race director Leopold König, a former professional cyclist who won the SAZKA Tour twice in his career. “Of course, we will be very happy if Honza figures in the overall classification,” added König...
Hirt has competed on the SAZKA Tour a total of eight times. This year has shone for him with victory on a mountain stage of the Giro d'Italia. "I always liked racing at home. I want to achieve the best possible result in the overall standings, and I’m very attracted to the third stage on Dlouhé stráně, which I want to try," said Hirt.
The starting list includes the World Tour teams BikeExchange – Jayco, BORA – hansgrohe and Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, as well as the best Czech team Elkov – Kasper. Young Czech talent Pavel Bittner (Development Team DSM), who won the opening stage of June's U23 Závod Míru in Jeseníky and rode in yellow, has also entered.
The SAZKA Tour will have four stages in Olomouc, through the Moravian-Silesian, Pardubice, South Moravian and Zlín regions with several climbing and sprint premiums. The first stage will lead from Uničov to Prostějov, the second starts in Olomouc and finishes in Pustevny, in the third stage cyclists will ride from Moravská Třebová to Dlouhé stráně, and the final stage goes from Šumperk to Šternberk. Compared to the original plan, the first stage was shortened by several kilometres due to construction work in the centre of Prostějov.
In the towns, on the day of the race, it is necessary to count on the closure of the town centres. The roads that form the course will also close as the race progresses. "We are of course trying to minimise the impact on traffic restrictions in the region," assured König. Parking and to a certain extent departure will be restricted at Pustevny, which is the destination for the second stage. Dlouhé stráně will be closed on both sides during the third day.
Fans can watch the race in person along the track. In addition, an online broadcast with precise GPS tracking is being prepared on the SAZKA Tour website and social networks.
SAZKA Tour Challenge for recreational cyclists
A new part of the SAZKA Tour is a 12-kilometre race for recreational cyclists, which will take place on 6 August ahead of the
main peloton. The brave will try the drastic climb from Loučná nad Desnou to Dlouhé stráně with a total elevation gain of 800 meters. There are a limited number of starting numbers available, those interested can register at www.SAZKAtour.cz. Those who prefer to ride alone can already try selected segments of the SAZKA Tour and Závod míru stages in the Strava application.
Team BikeExchange – Jayco, BORA – hansgrohe, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise, Drone Hopper - Androni Giocattoli, Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB, Uno-X Pro Cycling Team, Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè, Human Powered Health, Elkov – Kasper, Team Felbermayr - Simplon Wels, Team Vorarlberg, ABLOC CT, Jumbo-Visma Development Team, Dukla Banská Bystrica, Development Team DSM, Maloja Pushbikers, Adria Mobil, Voster ATS Team, Santic – Wibatech, Team Lotto - Kern Haus, ATT Investments.