Greek National Champion Cyclist Polychronis Tzortzakis jubilantly raised his hands in the air as his bike crossed the finish line at Chateau de Coucy (Castle of Coucy ) in France. The 120 kilometer race included nine small climbs around the historic French countryside and dozens of cyclists from throughout the world.
Tzortzakis shared his thoughts via Facebook that it was the support he’s getting from diaspora Greeks in a fundraising campaign that motivated him across the finish line.
“At one point I was in a breakaway of 4 cyclists for the last 30km and I attacked on the last 8th kilometer of the race and finished solo with almost a minute advantage over the next cyclists! I felt really good and was boosted by the help that I’m receiving from Greek-Americans these past few days. Knowing that there are people out there who care gave me a lot more motivation to win this race with the Greek flag on my jersey.”
At the time of his race, about a dozen Greek Americans had added funds to an Indiegogo campaign to support his efforts to compete in the World Championships in Richmond, Virginia in September. Since the race, numerous diaspora Greeks from Canada, the UK and Australia have also joined the campaign.
The fund was established by Gregory Pappas, publisher of The Pappas Post and aims to support Tzortzakis and other Greek champions in their efforts to compete internationally.
“Our aim is to keep the Greek flag present at international sporting competitions by encouraging champion athletes to keep racing, keep swimming and keep fighting for their dreams,” said Gregory Pappas after launching the fund.
There’s a lot of great working happening out there by diaspora associations and individuals, he continued— “We help the poor, we provide food and clothes, we are sending medical supplies to impoverished hospitals— every single one of these efforts are worthwhile and critical,” Pappas noted.
“But providing hope and helping young Greek champions continue to pursue their dreams is equally as important and our work can make a difference,” concluded Pappas, in reference to Tzortzakis statement about yesterday’s race in France, that was motivated by support from strangers.