May 16, 2020 / 2:42 PM / 10 days ago

F1 driver Kubica swaps four wheels for two in virtual Tour de Pologne

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Singapore Grand Prix - Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore - September 19, 2019 Williams' Robert Kubica during a press conference ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix REUTERS/Feline Lim

WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish Formula One driver Robert Kubica swapped his race car for an indoor bicycle on Saturday to take part in the e-Tour de Pologne after the road cycling race for amateurs was moved online due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Around 1,000 people took part in the race, including top Polish athletes like Kubica and Anita Wlodarczyk, a four-time world champion hammer thrower.

Kubica told Reuters that he was managing well with the temporary switch to a bike, adding that he had spent the past two months under lockdown training.

“When you are using an indoor bike ... you can train your mind, concentration, reflex, attention, so you can later become a better driver,” Kubica told Reuters, though he admitted that nothing compared to driving a bolide car.

Anyone with a smart bike trainer equipped with the Zwift application could take part in the race, which was televised and hosted by sports commentators from their homes. It is being held every Saturday for four weeks until the end of May.

Wlodarczyk, who was supposed to take part in the now-postponed Tokyo Olympics this year, said that if it wasn’t for the pandemic, she would probably never have taken part in a bike race.

“The first race was a week ago and I had the same feeling of excitement that I would before a competition, when I’m entering the stadium and am about the throw my hammer,” she told Reuters.

Czeslaw Lang, a former road cyclist and the organizer of the event, said the only thing missing from racing indoors was the wind in his hair.

“This competition is the same. You have to be well-prepared, you have to have the stamina,” he said.

Reporting by Malgorzata Wojtunik and Alicja Ptak; Editing by Joanna Plucinska and Christina Fincher

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