The amazing pier of Mikros Koule in Heraklion, Crete played host to the opening ceremony of the ΔΕΗ International Cycling Tour of Hellas, which was not only brought back to life this year, but with an upgraded status to the UCI calendar, as a category 2.1 Europe Tour race.
The US Ambassador in Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, invited by the Deputy Minister of Culture and Sports, Lefteris Aveganakis, honoured with his presence the team presentation ceremony in Mikros Koule along with representatives of institutions and local authorities.
The multi-layered and extremely important outline of the event was given in his short speech by Lefteris Avgenakis:
“When Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis entrusted me with the role to lead Greek sports, we turned our focus in making Greece an international sports hub again.
“By staging major international events like the ΔΕΗ International Cycling Tour of Greece, we connect sports with tourism, in a way to help local communities benefit and thus serve the national strategy.
“And now please allow me to welcome on stage the 20 Professional and National teams and the 140 top level riders of the Tour, that will start tomorrow from Heraklion, Crete.
“The island where the ancient Minoan civilization and the famous Cretan hospitality flourished; where the blue sky meets with the deep blue sea, and where the wild landscape of the mountain ranges echoes the legendary myths.
“Next comes, Attica, Central Greece, Thessaly and the finish on May 1 in Epirus, Ioannina. We expect to experience five days full of emotions, with the amazing landscapes of Greece setting the prefect background and promoting the beauties of Greece worldwide”.
For US Ambassador, Geoffrey Pyatt, the invitation he received from Mr. Avgenakis to attend the team presentation ceremony seemed like the best possible end of his tenure, since in a fortnight he will be leaving Greece and joining President Joe Biden’s cabinet.
“Thank you, Mr. Avgenakis, for inviting me here in Crete for the first stage of the Tour.
“Huge congratulations to the Minister and the whole team from Cycling Greece that brought back to life this event.
“I am in my last two weeks here. It’s been an extraordinary experience being an Ambassador in Greece. The memories I will treasure most are my cycling memories.
“I have been so grateful for the welcome I have received in Greece and the extraordinary offerings this country provides: the scenery; the landscape; the people; the food.
“To all teams, good luck and thank you very much”.
Other attendees of the ceremony where the title sponsor’s representative Christina Korai, the Chairman of the Organising Committee, George Leventakis, the Governor of Crete, Stavros Arnaoutakis and the Mayor of Heraklion, Vassilis Lambrinos.
Participants represent 5 continents and 26 countries, with European riders holding the lion's share with 108 entries. Among them, 16 have previous experience from the three Grand Tours.
The participating teams of the Tour are:
- Trek - Segafredo - UCI World Team
- Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB - UCI Pro Team
- Drone Hopper - Androni Giocattoli - UCI Pro Team
- Human Powered Health - UCI Pro Team
- Caja Rural - Seguros RGA - UCI Pro Team
- Team Novo Nordisk - UCI Pro Team
- Allinq Continental Cycling Team - UCI Continental Team
- Astana Kazakhstan Development Team - UCI Continental Team
- BHS - PL Concrete Bornholm - UCI Continental Team
- Cross Team Legendre - UCI Cyclocross Team
- Dukla Banska Bystrica - UCI Continental Team
- Bolton Equities Black Spoke Pro Cycling - UCI Continental Team
- Giotti Victoria - Savini Due - UCI Continental Team
- Mg.K Vis-Color for Peace-VPM - UCI Continental Team
- Team Coop - UCI Continental Team
- Terengganu Polygon Cycling Team - UCI Continental Team
- XSpeed United Continental– UCI Continental Team
- Tarteletto - Isorex - UCI Continental Team
- National team of Cyprus
- National team of Greece