?Two dreams of their lives to come true: six times paralympic winner to appear in a Tour de France time trial and talented young photographer David Vlk to cover Ježek´s appearance. Two anniversaries: the 100th Tour de France and ŠKODA celebrates 10 years as an event partner.
Ji?í Ježek, one of the world´s best handicapped athletes, will take part in the Tour de France on 10 July thanks to ŠKODA AUTO, a long-time partner of the Czech Paralympic Team and also a partner of the Tour de France. David Vlk, a talented fifteen-year-old photographer, will cover Ježek´s appearance in a 33-kilometre-long time trial. Also handicapped, David Vlk is thus going to see his big dream come true. Stage 11 of the Tour de France ends in Mont Saint Michel, a rocky tidal island that is a world cultural heritage site.
Ježek, one of the official forerunners in this time trial, is one of the world´s best handicapped athletes (six times paralympic winner and a cycling world champion). His 33-kilometre fight against time will be covered by David Vlk, a young photographer who, just like Ježek, has lost a part of his right leg. The time to be achieved by Ježek on the time trial route to include steep climbs will be a benchmark for the world´s top cyclists to appear on the start line. The island mountain of Saint Michel (Mont Saint Michel) is the highest point of Stage 11.
“We at ŠKODA AUTO find the courage, commitment and strong will of handicapped athletes most inspiring,” says Director of ŠKODA AUTO Czech Republic Petr Pe?enka. “As a long-time partner of the Czech Paralympic Team, we know very well that a physical handicap is not a barrier in accomplishing even the most challenging goals. We are pleased that thanks to our 10-year-long partnership with the Tour de France we are now able to support Ji?í Ježek and David Vlk and help to make two big sports dreams come true.”
Ji?í Ježek (39) won the 24-km race at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London and has become the Handicapped Athlete of the Year in the Czech Republic. Working hard in practice and putting in consistently excellent performances, Ježek is one of very few paralympic athletes able to compete with cyclists without handicaps.
David Vlk (15) discovered his photographic talent at the Haemato-Oncology Clinic of the Motol Hospital, and Ji?í Ježek was his example to follow at the worst moments of his life. In France David is going to make his big dream of becoming a sports photographer come true. After the Tour de France David will start getting ready for secondary-school photography studies.
“I believe that Ji?í´s and David´s performances will surprise many professionals and that they will inspire young handicapped people,” adds Petr Pe?enka.
The legendary Tour de France is celebrating 100 years of its existence this year. To mark this anniversary, all of the stages will take place exclusively in France. The race will start with three stages in Corsica. Since 1975, the Tour finishes under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. ŠKODA AUTO is also celebrating a major anniversary at the 2013 TdF – the brand is acting as one of the event partners for the tenth time. ŠKODA will provide a fleet of vehicles and support the white jersey for the best under-25 rider. Each jersey winner will receive a cup designed by ŠKODA designers.
ŠKODA AUTO supports world-class cycling, but is also involved in projects such as Kolo pro život (Bike For Life), the world´s biggest amateur MTB series. About 160,000 cyclists have taken part in this competition over the last thirteen years, of which 20,000 in 2012 alone. Furthermore, ŠKODA supports the Virtual Cup in the Czech Republic – equipped with a GPS device, each participant competes on one of 16 routes and then uploads and compares their results on www.virtualcup.cz.