Thorbjørn Jagland welcomed participants in the Lipetsk-Strasbourg international cycle race this afternoon at the finish line in Strasbourg, as they arrived from their 3500 km race from Russia, across Belarus, Poland and Germany.
The Secretary General described the event, labelled "Europe without barriers and borders!” as “a test of outstanding determination and enormous courage”. The 15 sportsmen and women with disabilities came from Lipetsk, Tatarstan, other Russian regions and from Belarus. They started out on 4 October, cycling through 5 countries and 3 time zones in the centenary year of the Olympic movement in Russia and ahead of the Paralympic games in London 2012 and Sochi in 2014.
"Your bike ride is a salute to the ideals of one Europe, open for all and shared by all. And your success is proof that we can all succeed", the Secretary General said.
The Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe, Mr Alexander Alekseev, Mr Farid Mukhametshin, Chairman of the State Council (Parliament) of the Republic of Tatarstan and Russian delegate to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, and Ms Françoise Bey, Déléguée aux sports et aux pratiques douces, Mairie de Strasbourg also welcomed the participants.