WE WANT TO SHOW THE UNIQUENESS OF THE MOUNTAIN STAGE AREA, SAYS JAN BAUER, MAYOR OF PRACHATICE
It is an important and unique promotion of the town and the whole region. The Mountain stage of The L'Etape Czech Republic by Tour de France which is scheduled for 17th August 2024, is not just a unique sporting event for Jan Bauer, the mayor of Prachatice. "We see the social overlap, and we want to show the uniqueness of the area where the event will be held," explains Jan Bauer, whose hometown will host the start and finish of one of the races of the series organised under the banner of the biggest cycling event on the planet.
Does the connection with the L´Etape Czech Republic by the Tour de France represent a great prestige for Prachatice?
I know there were several candidates, and the town of Prachatice was not the only aspirant to host the Mountain stage. Many of my friends rode at least one of the three editions of the L´Etape Czech Republic in the Central Bohemia region and they were thrilled. When the town of Prachatice was chosen, we were very delighted. We are aware that there will be high expectations from the first edition of the Mountain Stage. We will try not to disappoint because we perceive the social overlap.
In mid-January, an informative meeting was held in the Town Hall of the Prachatice Municipal Office with representatives of the municipalities, concerned associations, and local entrepreneurs. Did the big meeting seven months before the event make sense?
100 %. We wanted to organise this meet-up so that everyone concerned would know exactly what L'Etape means and represents. For many of those concerned, this meeting was an important introduction to the whole project. Of course, some people follow social media and other types of media, so they are exactly aware of what L'Etape Czech Republic is about. But the level of awareness varied and I felt it was important to educate everyone. I was pleased with how humble and modest the organisers were towards the participants, knowing that not everyone has detailed information about the importance and nature of L´Etape Czech Republic.
Have you also encountered negative feedback that organizing a cycling race with several hundred participants, not to mention their escorts, will be a big burden for Prachatice?
We are aware that this is a big event, which brings certain limitations, for example in terms of traffic, but we are also convinced that there are many more benefits. I have good feedback from the representatives of the municipalities that the organizing team is already reaching out to all entities, starting with the municipality, the state administration, and even, for example, caterers or hoteliers at this stage, more than seven months before the start. The accommodation facilities are already sold out, which shows a clear effect in terms of tourism.
Do you see the position of the start and finish of the Mountain Stage as an exceptional chance to promote not only Prachatice but the whole region?
I see the biggest benefit of the race in the promotion of the region. It is important for us that people come and say that it is worth coming to Prachatice. For example, we'd like for all cycling enthusiasts to leave with the impression that we have great roads, welcoming people, fine gastronomy... These are tangible things that are difficult to appreciate in marketing, but we need this information to spread among the public not only from social media or media but also in a natural way, based on personal experience. It is clear to us that it is not enough to do two or three events throughout a year and then do nothing. We need visitors not only for L'Etape. That is why we are preparing to use the race to present not only Prachatice but the whole region through which the race will pass.
Do you consider your position in the premiere edition of the Mountain Stage L´Etape Czech Republic by Tour de France as a unique one considering the possibility that the real Tour de France could come to the Czech Republic in four or five years?
Yes. As a matter of fact, during one of the first meetings, when we had no idea whether L´Etape would be held in our region, I was thinking like this. I said to myself that it would be an absolute fantasy if one day my hometown Prachatice would be part of a monstrous event like the Tour de France. If in the future, we manage to get part in the biggest cycling race in the Czech Republic and Prachatice, thanks to the great work of L'Etape, it will be great and very gratifying.
Will you also ride the Mountain stage?
I'm a big sportsman and I enjoy cycling very much. For a long time before I started my political career, I made a very good living selling bicycles. Currently, I have switched to an e-bike, hence why I will skip L'Etape as an athlete, but will get involved as a fan.
As you grew up in the region, you must know the route that organisers have planned well. Do you like the route that organised have chosen?
We sat over the route many times and discussed several options and I think that the organisers chose very well from all the options we had. Cyclists will enjoy the beautiful surroundings as well as they will sweat and the route will test their physical skills. Although it is a race for amateurs, we will see great sporting performances.
There are countless climbs on the track. Can you choose your favourite one?
It'd have to be Klet'. I can't get enough of it. It is not an easy climb and for cyclists who do not know the environment, it will be an unforgettable experience that I hope will fit into the uniqueness of the whole L'Etape that Prachatice and the whole region will host.