2 months ago by Oskar Scarsbrook

Alan Banaszek ready for Polish homecoming

Human Powered Health Cycling brings the noise to Tour of Poland

Human Powered Health Cycling men’s team is heading to the Tour of Poland with newly crowned Polish national champion Alan Banaszek leading the charge.

The 25-year-old will carry the jersey adorned with his country’s white eagle national symbol, the ‘Orzeł Biały’ into the team’s first UCI WorldTour stage race since last year’s Tour de Suisse. 

The 2023 edition may prove to be one of the most exciting to date with three sprint stages, three stages in the high mountains and an individual time trial. 

Photo: Getty Images

To reflect the varied parcours, joining Banaszek will be sprinters
Stanisław Aniołkowski and Sasha Weemaes, climber Paul Double, Tour of Hungary and O Gran Camiño KOM jersey winner Sebastian Schönberger as well as experienced domestiques Barnábas Peák and Gijs Van Hoecke.

Arguably the strongest ProTeam lineup in the race, due to the status of the tour, the climbers will go up against João Almeida and ex-rider Brandon McNulty from UAE Team Emirates, Giro d’Italia second place Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers) and Sergio Higuita (BORA – hansgrohe) among other big names. Aniołkowski and Weemaes will also face elite competition with Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma), Gerben Thijssen (Intermarché – Circus – Wanty), Tim Merlier (Soudal – Quick Step) and Jonathan Milan (Bahrain – Victorious), all down to race.

Ahead of the action, we caught up with the champ himself, Banaszek, as well as British climber Double, to preview an exciting week in Polska. 


The pride of a nation 


Having won a thrilling 227km long national road race, Banaszek has the special honor of pulling on the national colors for his home race, a dream come true even if the result has yet to fully sink in. 

“It’s going to be an amazing experience for me and it’s a huge honor to wear the jersey in this race,” he said. “I’m looking forward to showing our team at this level.”

Banaszek knows the route well having reconned the sprint finishes with fellow Pole Aniołkowski in the build-up to the race. 

“We have a really good lead-out train for this race,” he notes. “Stan and I have been training well together. I know the first stage well as we finish on the motor circuit I have raced on two times before. The last stage will for sure be good for us as we know these laps in Kraków so with good legs we can fight for a result there,” he added. 

This local knowledge will also come in handy for his teammates with the pair also training in the area of stage 2, even if they do not have it in their sights. The pair also raced the UCI 2.2 Memoriał Andrzeja Trochanowskiego with Aniołkowski finishing second and Banaszek fourth.

“I had a training camp in the Polish mountains to prepare for this race,” he explains. “I received my Pactimo jersey this weekend so I can’t wait to wear it properly.”

Racing is a family affair for the Banaszeks with Alan’s cousin Norbert lining up in Poznań as part of the national team. 

After Poland, Banaszek will refocus back to track cycling when he heads immediately from Kraków to the UCI World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland to race both the omnium and the madison. 


New territory for Double


27-year-old Double enters this week off the back of an impressive performance at the Tour of Slovenia where he displayed his mountain goat prowess on the races queen stage. The Tour of Poland will be his first time racing in the WorldTour. 

“It’s a different level,” he says. “I know I can race against the best guys but there’s a difference between a peloton with a big variation in level and a WorldTour one where everyone is class, but at least I know when the race kicks off, I should have the legs to follow the top guys.”

Climbing high at the Tour of Slovenia.

This depth of quality is enough to make anyone nervous but the climbers will have their chance from the off with stage 2 immediately going into the mountains. Double is keen to impress and put his recent training – where he recently took the lead of the famed Girona climb, Rocacorba, on Strava – to good use. 

“It’s useful to get an understanding of the level from the off and see how it plays out the rest of the race,” he explains. “I was feeling really good in Slovenia. Of course, there has been a break in racing because of the Tour de France but my numbers in training have never been better so I’m looking forward to potentially showing myself to more of the world.”

Double is also excitedto head to the race with Banaszek in the national jersey. 

“Stani and Alan will have the home crowd with them so that’s going to make our lives easier and the group is really great for the week.”


Tour of Poland stage-by-stage


7/29 Stage 1 | Poznań – Poznań (183.7km) Flat
A pan-flat start to racing means a bunch sprint and a chance for Aniołkowski and Weemaes. The peloton will have to negotiate a technical run-in though, with the stage finishing on a twisty motor circuit.  

7/30 Stage 2 | Leszno – Karpacz (202.9km) Mountains

The big GC teams are bound to put the hammer down on stage 2 to make an early selection. A rolling finish is capped off by the uphill finish to Karpacz. With pitches close to 20%, it may well be a case of hanging on to the line. 

7/31 Stage 3 | Wałbrzych – Duszniki-Zdrój (163.3km) Mountains

With the GC battle underway and two early climbs, stage 3 is the first chance for Schönberger to go KOM hunting. After that, a succession of uncategorized climbs follows before a 7.8km hill inside the final 20km, a descent and then a kilometer long ramp to the line. 

8/1 Stage 4 | Strzelin – Opole (198.6km) Flat

After two hard days a flat stage is a welcome reward for the sprinters. Another bunch finish should be on the cards with an arrow straight final 400 meters delivering the pack to the line. 

8/2 Stage 5 | Pszczyna – Bielsko-Biala (198.6km) Mountains

With a dynamic looking profile and a four-lap rolling finish, stage 5 will seal the KOM classification and may well be tough enough for a breakaway to survive to the line with the GC riders having an eye on the race-deciding time-trial.  

8/3 Stage 6 | Katowice – Katowice (16.6km) ITT

16.6km and flat, TT specialists like world champion Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) and European champion Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-EasyPost) will focus all their efforts on today as preparation for the world championships in Scotland. Elsewhere, the route is technical enough for it to be a title-deciding day. 

8/4 Stage 7 | Zabrze – Kraków (166.6km) Flat

A flat finale in Kraków brings the Tour of Poland to an end. A finish Aniołkowski and Banaszek know well, their local knowledge will be crucial in this last bid for glory. 


Tour of Poland roster
Stanisław Aniołkowski 🇵🇱
Alan Banaszek 🇵🇱
Paul Double 🇬🇧
Barnábas Peák 🇭🇺
Sebastian Schönberger 🇦🇹
Gijs Van Hoecke 🇧🇪
Sasha Weemaes 🇧🇪 


How to watch 


Every stage of the Tour of Poland can be watched live in the United States and Canada on FloBikes with most days coverage starting at 6 am CST. In Europe, coverage is carried by GCN+/Eurosport.