The first historic WUCA World UltraCycling Championship, held as part of Race Around Poland 2023, are behind us. It can be said without a moment's hesitation that the specific gravity of the event and the rank of the Championships made RAP the most difficult, in terms of combined experience and quality of the riders, ultracycling event in the world in 2023. Will it be the same in 2024? Who will enjoy the 2024 World Female Champion or World Champion statue at the finish line of the race?
The 2024 edition will be unique.
Firstly, the World UltraCycling Championships will once again be held as part of Race Around Poland, which means that the eyes of competitors and fans of this demanding sport will once again rest on the map of Poland in the summer.
Secondly, for the first time the World UltraCycling Association (WUCA) has also decided to recognise unsupported long-distance cycling and award the World Champion statuette in this category as well. This is great news for all fans and lovers of ultra cycling from Poland, as it is well known that there are many Poles among the world's best unsupported ultra cyclists. Those who followed the 2023 event know how impressive a result was achieved by one of them, namely Krystian Jakubek, who checked in at the finish line as fourth open, ahead of five unsupported riders, including World Champion (women) - Nicole Reist, and World Champion (50+) Joe Barr. So who will stand on the World Championship podium, for the first time ever in this new category?
It has become a good tradition of Race Around Poland that we try to introduce the profiles of our competitors to those interested, before they even set off on the race route. This year will be no different.
At the time of writing this text, the Race Around Poland 2024 start lists 55 riders from 11 countries and three continents.
We will start our presentation with the contenders for the title of Ultracycling World Champion, in the category with support.
Let us remind you that, according to the regulations, the competitors in this category move with the assistance of a minimum of 1 and a maximum of. 2 vehicles, whereby: (i) during the entire race a participant shall be supported at all times by min. One vehicle and min. 2 persons and, in the case of two vehicles, a minimum of four persons, and (ii) in the event that, for any reason, a participant does not have the minimum support at any time, he/she shall be obliged to discontinue the race until this is completed.
As was the case last year, in the category with support, the World Championship will be run over the full distance of 3,600 km. Female and Male World Champion statues will be awarded to athletes divided into categories under and over 50 years of age.
The list of contenders includes both participants in previous editions of the RAP, including the World Championships, and riders who will be standing on the race course for the first time:
Among others, we will see Rainer Steinberger, the current world vice-champion in Ultracycling (time 167:28:03), once again on the race route.
Rainer took first place in the 2021 Race Across Italy (790 km) during which the WUCA European Championships were held. Rainer's impressive resume additionally includes: victory twice in Race Around Austria (2019, 2020), victory in Race across Germany (2019), unofficial world championship twice and first and third place open in "Glocknerman", first places in: Velofondo 24 h (2017) 24 h "Schinderai", Rad am Ring (2016) (new course record), Race Around Slovenia (2015) in a relay with Perr Bischof (2015). Identified by Christoph Strasser to RAAM organisers as a contender for the Race Across America trophy in 2020. He is another rider with extensive sporting experience. He started his adventure in martial arts, then took an interest in triathlon and competed in Ironman distance events in many places around the world.
We are looking forward to the start of the 2022 World Champion in the 24-hour ride Philipp Kaider - the young Austrian rider who took part in the 2022 World Ultra Cycling Championships in the 24-hour individual time trial category in Borrego Springs, California, and won the world title with a distance of 856 kilometres (531 miles) covered in 23 hours and 42 minutes. Philipp Kaider is thus one of only two riders to surpass a distance of 850 kilometres (531 miles) in this competition, and one of eleven riders to have reached the 500-mile mark. It is worth mentioning that the current World Champion in this competition Stanislav Vertovsek achieved a slightly weaker result in 2023 in Borrego Springs, riding 523 miles in a time of 23 hours and 52 minutes.
Philipp is a specialist in 24-hour individual and relay cycling and has previously won the German Cup (2018) in this discipline. Independently, he has repeatedly competed individually and in a relay at Race Around Austria (2021. - first place and individual 1500 km course record, 2022 second place, 2017 - first place for the two-man relay) and Race Around Niederösterreich (2021, 2020 - second place).
David "Riki" Richtarić
A representative of the Slovenian Armed Forces cycling club, selected several times as the best military athlete of the year.
David is also a competitor at last year's World Championships, in which he narrowly missed out on the podium by losing to the titled Latvian Arvis Sprude after an exciting battle for third place and finishing less than seven hours behind him with a time of 193.20:42.
David is also a title hunter. He has participated in some of the most prestigious ultra cycling competitions in Europe, in which he has placed highly. He has participated in Race Around Austria three times, including winning this race once (2009), and coming second the following year. His list of starts also includes Race Across the Alps, Race Around Slovenia, 24 h Montello, Race Across Italy and last year he also won the Race Around Denmark 1600 km. Riki is also a mountain runner and marathon runner. He has run a marathon under 2 hours and 30 minutes (2:27)!
Once again, we will also see Poland's representative Paweł Woronowicz on the race route in this category, as he had to stop competing after reaching the second checkpoint in 2023. We are keeping our fingers crossed for his start this year!
Philippe May (Cat 50+)
Philippe May needs no introduction to ultracycling fans in Poland. This participant in the RAP 3600 solo supported in 2022 made his mark in the memory of the organisers, participants and fans thanks to the heroic battle he fought with himself to reach the Checkpoint 1800 km after he suffered an injury while being hit on the route of the race in Zakopane.
Phillippe's team leader summed up the race at the time: https://racearoundpoland.pl/news/where-does-an-athlete-start-when-recapping-one-of-the-most-epic-adventures-of-their-cycling-career
Phillippe is also a speed skier and one of the few people in the world who can boast of crossing the 250 km/h barrier on skis. He also won the legendary Race Across America (RAAM) race riding in a relay with RAP 2023 World Championships participant Giovanni Prosperi (finishing time 244:01:02).
We are waiting for final confirmation from Philippe.
On the start list we will also see Poland's representative and the only woman so far - Małgorzata Rajczyba, India's representative Nayan Jain, another RAAM finisher - Kurt Matzler (cat. 50+) and another Polish representative - Mirosław Paździora, also a participant in last year's competition.
The Race Around Poland organising team would like to take this opportunity to wish all the participants, also those who are yet to appear on the start list, and their families - much health, endurance and success in the New Year 2024!
Photo: Tomasz Ginter: RAP 2023 - David "Riki" Richtarić