Behind the scenes with TVP at the 70th Tour de Pologne

This coming Saturday (27 July) will herald the start of the 70th Jubilee Tour de Pologne international bicycle race, which for the first time in the event’s history will commence in Italy, writes Tomasz Kolaczyk. Two of the initial stages will be held in Reggio Trentino, after which all participants and organising crew will fly to Krakow, Poland, for the remaining five stages.

Tour de Pologne – which is this year due to conclude on 3 August – belongs to the UCI World Tour series of bicycle races alongside the Tour de France and Vuelta Espana. New for the 2013 Tour de Pologne is a pilot project designed to highlight the excitement of daily proceedings, in which bonus points will be awarded to riders who win a series of contests during each day’s racing. At the end of each stage a general ‘Race Appeal’ classification will be established by adding up the points awarded. The top riders of this classification will obtain time bonuses on the event’s general classification. The number of riders per team will be six as opposed to the usual eight. After the 2013 Tour de Pologne it is envisaged that the concept will be introduced at other UCI World Tour events in 2014.

Polish TV (TVP) is the official Tour de Pologne broadcaster and will cover all stages from the first Italian ones to the final one in Krakow Old Market square. Each day will be covered with 16 OBVAN cameras to show the competition during the last kilometre, two motorcycle cameras and, onboard a helicopter, a WesCam. Dariusz Czekalski, a technical head of this production, explains that the signals from and to the mobile cameras will be transmitted via an airplane flying 2-4km over the ground and transmitted to the receiving station located near the main production OBVAN.

The two-way communication link established this year gives not only intercom/talkback capability, but also full control of the cameras. This technology is being provided by AMP Visual in cooperation with TVP.

The TV signal, meanwhile, will be provided in HD in two streams: a local one for the Polish TV programmes as well as the international feed for Eurosport and 20 other TV stations accredited by the event. In addition to the TV equipment the bicycles will be equipped with GPS transmitters to easily locate each contender and graphically display them on the map. Cycling fans can follow the position of each contender online during all of the stages.

The last race is destined to be particularly interesting, entailing a timed race along small streets in the historical Old Town of Krakow with the finish line and winner ceremony on the Old Market square. It will also be captured with 16 OBVAN HD cameras and the two situated on the motorcycles. From a broadcast TV perspective, Tour de Pologne is set to be the biggest Polish event of the year.

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