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Sunday, 9 April 2017

3rd Edition Of "Tour Of Croatia" Just Days Away







The town of Crikvenca before the start of stage 4 at the 2016 Tour of Croatia.





And keeping it on the extreme sports theme, I should note that the next "Tour of Croatia" international cycling stage races are happening again this month. (Cycling hundreds of kilometers each day for 6 days straight with no breaks and no break days I would classify as an extreme sport). I'm not a professional cyclist, follow the sport and various tours or even ride any bike currently, but this is definitely another gruelling extreme sport with lots of thrills, spills and strategies consisting of cycling through heat, cold, fog and rain, perseverance, intestinal fortitude and all that. The local history of competitive cycle racing and stage races goes back to the late 1880's when the Croatian crown lands, aka the Croatian Triune Kingdom, were in political union with the Habsburg Monarchy and Austria-Hungary, so it's not a new sporting event or recent sports fad in Croatia at all. I watched last year's tour and it was pretty cool actually, 6 stages that included riding pretty well through most of the different Croatian landscapes and regions and not just one area, through the downtown center of cities and small towns from the eastern, northwestern and coastal regions, (example), over and through mountains, tunnels, across plains, bridges, on highways and cobbled roads, along the coast, through forests and by lots of medieval castles, fortresses, manors, waterfalls, rivers, you name it, and with plenty of top notch aerial views and commentary.






(Here's an amusing story but absolutely true, I noticed the McDonald's in the added pic below of them racing through the city of Rijeka and it reminded me of something. I was actually at that McDonald's a couple times, (example), as well as one in Zagreb, and I'll tell you it was like a dreamland atmosphere and surreal, I can honestly say that even if I just had hung around those McDonald's patios all day long every day and did nothing else during my entire holidays there it would have still been a pleasant, interesting and enjoyable well spent holiday, you see, they all have patios, as well as many of the restaurants and cafes/pubs, people like to hang outside and in the summer because it's patio season in Croatia. (So how was your trip?, what did you do? Oh, I hung around a McDonald's patio for a few weeks, it was awesome and enjoyable). And I swear even the people beside me I was talking with one time were from a North American city, they weren't Croatian background either and which city I won't mention or her specific reasons why, but they said the same thing basically, that they never even think about going to their local McDonald's to eat because they have children and it's turned too ghetto and fucktarded so they'll instead only use the drive-thru, yep only the drive-thru...that says a lot, true story. I told her I know what she means, that our local schools, bus routes and malls are like that too). The only annoyance was when some traveling North American religious types came around trying to give out pamphlets and brainwash people (geez those people really need a reality check and maybe a map and compass and glasses that's for sure). Basically all I can say is that the McDonald's in Croatia are very, very different than the ones in North America and in my opinion simply way better, ipso facto)






I should also mention that the commentators during the stage races do a really top notch job, making the sport and event very easy to follow and understand even if you know absolutely nothing about the sport, the one guy does a great job especially during helicopter aerial views of even pointing out and throwing in some cool history information so the viewer knows just what the hell it is exactly that they're looking at, over an ancient Roman ruin and especially when it hovers over an old medieval Croatian fortress or castle, such as the 8th-9th century Knin & Klis Fortresses, and he briefly mentions how they used to be residences of Croatian Kings in the Middle Ages, and adds how a successful major battle took place there defending against the centuries of Muslim jihads and invading Ottoman armies from their Sanjak of Smederevo, even what mountain, waterfalls, town or river they're looking at etc, instead of just "...Oh, and there's some old stone building there on some mountain" or "...It's a sunny day with 20% chance of precipitation a slight breeze and here we see some building over there between some other buildings near some town somewhere...". Not long-winded stuff but just quick tidbits which shows he did his homework and knows his basic background facts, and in the process reminding the viewer of the interesting Croatian history in Central Europe which goes back way before the 20th century came along. (He even shocked me a few times mentioning about bear and wildlife populations and even nonchalant mentions about the gothic, baroque, and renaissance era architecture seen during some aerial views, that's just crazy facts and information to know). Anyway, just really interesting and informative supplementary live action commentating during the races, it adds a whole new ambiance and perspective to the overall sporting event and surroundings for those unfamiliar.





Here's a quick interlude of interesting tidbits and rare images I came across since already on the topic. (and probably readers in China and Holland too especially, there are almost 900,000 cyclists in Amsterdam alone which is almost more than there is people, it's true believe it or not)...the first early prototype bicycles started making an appearance in Croatia in the 1860's. Ladislav Beluš, (a member of the Croatian Mountaineering Society and who arranged the first public skating rink and skating club in Zagreb in 1870), introduced the first cycle in Zagreb after coming back from the 1867 Paris World Expo where they were first displayed to the general public, and it caused great interest in Zagreb. In 1877 the Hrvatski Klub Biciklista Sokol (Croatian Falcon Bicycle Club) organization was formed in Zagreb. In 1886 the cycling society 'Concordia' was formed in Osijek and in June 1886 the very first official cycling race competition took place in Zagreb. It included a race for smaller style bicycles and larger bicycles, 2400 meters distance and 20 kilometers. In 1891 the first cycling race track and grounds was built in Zagreb by members of the Hrvatski Klub Biciklista Sokol (Croatian Falcon Bicycle Club), at the time the Croatian crown lands were in union with the Habsburg Monarchy Austria-Hungary and the competitions took place near the site of the new Croatian National Theatre grounds (which was built later in 1895), and just a year later in 1892 the first official Croatian National Cycling Championships took place there. 


Formed in 1877 the Hrvatski Klub Biciklista Sokol (Croatian Falcon Bicycle Club) in Zagreb, this photo from 1887. Within a few years there were Croatian cycling clubs and societies formed in Zagreb, Pula, Split, Koprivnica, Osijek, Vinkovci, Požega, Zadar, Opatija, Rijeka, Karlovac, Vukovar, Sisak, Varaždin and in many other cities and towns, Croatian cyclists also introduced the new cycling craze into Mostar and Saraejevo causing quite a stir.


In 1895 the first Croatian bicycle factory and repair shops opened in Zagreb.


During the early era Croatian cyclists such as Nikola Košćec, Ivan Mihelić, Vilko Boršić, Josip Pavlija, Franjo Gregl, Antun Banek, Koloman Sović, Kazimir Šoštarko, Emil Osrečki, Ivan Penčev, Nikola Bošković, Stjepan Ljubić, Stjepan Grgac Milan Meniga, Vid Ročić, Milan Truban and August Prosenik being just a few who competed and won at a number of newly appearing cycling races in Croatia and across Europe promoting the new sport. In the 1880-90's Croatian cyclists were victorious and a common sight at cycling races in Ljubljana, Graz, Prague, Warsaw, Vienna and Budapest, the first great achievements at foreign racetracks and international competitions was by Vinko Ferković who in the late 1890's won races in France, Switzerland and Austria. In 1894 Nikola Pečornik co-founded the first Association of Croatian Cyclists and printed newsletters aimed at promoting the new sport and profession, In 1895 the first Croatian manufactured bicycles appeared and sales/repair shops opened, bringing the new cycling craze into Mostar and Sarajevo. In 1897 Ferdinand Budicki, a Zagreb pioneer of car, bicycle and airplane culture and founder of the Zagreb Fair and Hrvatski športski savez in 1909 (Croatian Sports Alliance), gained media attention after building his own bicycle and cycling over 17,000 kilometers in 8 months across Europe. By 1898 there were cycling clubs and societies formed in Zagreb, Pula, Split, Koprivnica, Osijek, Vinkovci, Požega, Zadar, Opatija, Rijeka, Karlovac, Vukovar, Sisak, Varaždin and soon in many other cities and towns. In 1911 even HŠK Građanski (Hrvatski građanski športski klub/Croatian Civic Sports Club, (ie: the club origin of today's Dinamo Zagreb football club and from where the team logo derived from) also added a cycling section to the club. Information from the Tour of Croatia 2017 Official Handbook.


Cycling races and displays in 1888 at Zrinjevac Park in Zagreb (aka Nikola Šubić Zrinski Square), notice the guy in the front still using a large front wheel style bike. The spectators were all probably in awe and amazed at the new cycling craze. Riding the new sensation wasn't cheap either, in 1886 a new bicycle costed about 3 months average wages, by 1909 it was less than a month's average wage. The Croatian general public and world was entering an exciting and progressive new century and epoch, new inventions, new Colas, department stores, Art Nouveau and Art Deco, the new magics of self basting roasters, washing machines, trams and trollies, toasters, hot water tanks, safety throw away razors and the first movies and films were on the way too.


I had to add this from the Zagreb City Museum, from long before mannequin challenge videos/social media filter stickers, crack babies, Jerry Springer, fentanyl overdosing, car karaoke, hoverboards and gender reassignments were all the rage, here's some interesting images of the first bicycles available to the public in the 19th century. It was originally known as a Velocipede, but later because of its wooden and iron wheels and rough ride it became commonly called the boneshaker bicycle. The rider of this 1870 boneshaker bike used rotary cranks and pedals mounted to the front wheel hub so it was more like riding a tricycle. Not too aerodynamic or fun to ride on roads or in parks probably or stage racing either. When one of the first people to try one out in Zagreb was asked afterwards what he thought about the new cycle craze, he replied that it felt like riding a camel, so the suspension and breaking system probably wasn't all that great. (notice how the above newsboy style caps came back in style just a few years ago and was all the rage again, how practically every guy was wearing one because the newsboy cap look was in like apple dumplings, I'm looking forward to when top hats come back in style, I'm getting one and maybe a cool pocket watch before going to the cinematograph, maybe even a gargoyle, dragon or snake and skull tipped walking stick). Luckily they started looking more like modern chain pedaled and rubber tired cycles within just a few years. There's your very brief version Croatian cycling history lesson of the day.







Back to this 21st century tour, last year there were also 6 stages including over 1000 kilometres distance travelled by the racers, passing through 12 host cities and more than 100 different sites, as well as almost 10 hours of live TV broadcast beamed around the world by Eurosport, Croatian Radio Television (HRT) and numerous other television stations from around the world to over 60 countries, also including 20 teams representing Switzerland, United States, Poland, Croatia, Slovenia, Russia, Italy, Great Britain, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Israel and more. This year live broadcasts will reach viewers on 6 continents in 177 countries.






Anyway, I'm not going to add much more, just see the previous post links below for much more information and media. There are a number of Croatian cyclists riding in the various teams. The inaugural 2015 tour overall individual winner was Polish cyclist Maciej Paterski, and last year Croatian cyclist Matija Kvasina surprised the strong competition taking the leaders jersey at stage 4 and then protecting his lead to become overall winner in 2016, including a dramatic last stage finish through the streets of Zagreb, it was pretty cool. (2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year and named 2012 Tour de France's best sprinter of all time winner Mark Cavendish took stage 2, but also medaled at the Olympics later in the summer). However this year Italian national champion Vincenzo Nibali will be among the big cycling names vying for the Tour of Croatia title, so it should be very interesting with plenty of lead changes, sprints and excitement again. When I watched the Olympics later in the summer I was much more knowledgeable about this sport, various cycling terms and all the strategies involved.






You can watch live streams of the races at HRTi, as well as Croatian National Television (HRT), Eurosport and Eurosport Asia and a bunch of other places on the internet. The Tour of Croatia will be featured by different TV stations all over the world this time– live on 6 continents – reaching viewers in 177 countries. The tour official website is www.tourofcroatia.com.


photos-of-day-tour-of-croatia-cycling-taking-place

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photos-of-day-2nd-annual-tour-of-croatia-concludes

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www.eurosport.com/cycling/tour-de-croatie








Text: www.croatiaweek.com


The 3rd Tour of Croatia international cycling race is set to get underway in under two weeks.

From 18 – 23 April 2017 some of the best international riders will race on a 1,000 kilometre route along the Adriatic coast, Istria and inland Croatia over 6 stages.

This year’s Tour of Croatia will be tougher than ever as riders will have to negotiate the testing Biokovo and Učka mountains.






Riders from various teams will start the race in Osijek on 18 April. The first 227 km long stage will finish in Koprivnica. The second stage starts in the UNESCO protected city of Trogir and finishes on Biokovo mountain some 123 km later.

The third stage will see riders race between Imotski and Zadar on the Dalmatian coast, before they head to Istria on stage four.

The sixth and final stage on 23 April will be between Samobor and Zagreb.


STAGES

1. 18. April – OSIJEK – KOPRIVNICA (227 km)
2. 19. April – TROGIR – BIOKOVO (123 km)
3. 20. April – IMOTSKI – ZADAR (237 km)
4. 21. April – CRIKVENICA – UMAG (171 km)
5. 22. April – POREČ – UČKA (141 km)
6. 23. April – SAMOBOR – ZAGREB (147 km)


The race, which is classified as a first category race by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), just one level below the biggest tour races such as Tour de France, Giro di Italia and Vuelta a España, will feature world top-class riders again.



Well, that's about it, whether one follows this sport and stage cycling tours or or not, at least the reader will now know that even though this is the 3rd Tour of Croatia, the history of cycling races in Croatia actually goes back to the 1800's. If you can't watch the races live you can always follow on Twitter and Facebook or keep up to date, know the routes, teams and riders before the start of the race and check out results and the various classifications for each stage during the race with the official Tour Of Croatia mobile app.






Search for the latest info on your Android or an iOS device, developed by CROZ d.o.o.

Download:

iOS:
itunes.apple.com/app/tour-of-croatia/ios

Android:
play.google.com/tourofcroatia.android




And lastly, just some of the behind the scenes volunteers who are helping make the "2017 Tour of Croatia" event happen. Let's bow our heads and pray that enough volunteers take part and that the Tour of Croatia takes place with a happy ending and most importantly with no injured cyclists or cycles or stray animals etc, this is probably one of the most important things in the world to pray about during the next few weeks. (almost as important as praying for better celeb selfies and fresh gossip news, so it's pretty important actually). If you would like to volunteer you can find out more information and register HERE. Let's make the 2017 Tour of Croatia magic a reality and amazing event for the ages! Image: www.facebook.com/TourOfCroatiaRace








Highlights from last year.




Stage 2 from last year as an example of what to expect more of again. (You'll definitely want to know the meaning of the word peloton) You can watch last year's complete stage races at www.youtube.com/channel/TourofCroatia



This last one is an example of what I was talking about earlier, numerous stage cycling tours around the world have witnessed similar scenes of horrors and tragedy. In this example scenes from the Tour de France which show that it's not all just glory, scenic images, victory champagne spraying and having your name engraved for posterity. The races always start whether the roads are wet and it's raining or not. Awful unexpected tragedies, broken limbs, spilled blood, twisted cycle parts all over the place, terrible woes and untold suffering also, it happens many times during the quest for the leader's jersey in world class cycling stage races unfortunately. I know I sometimes complain about the unnecessary overuse of epic orchestra music on Youtube videos, but here I think it actually would have been a good idea and not out of place... example/example/example...there's lots of examples. I tried it and the video really does seem much more epic like a dramatic stage cycling movie. (Viewer discretion advised, some scenes the viewer may find disturbing)






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