The sixth and final day of Legal & General Real Assets Cycle to MIPIM is, not surprisingly, another early start. After some celebrating of the fundraising target announced at last night’s dinner and the excitement of being reunited with colleagues and friends, there are a few tired faces about for the morning stint. However, heading out of Aix into the chilly early morning sunrise soon wakes everyone up. All of the riders from teams Broadgate Estates, JLL, Elliott Wood, McAleer & Rushe, Webb Yates and Aspire are out on the road today, so it’s the largest peloton yet that rolls out of the Aix Novotel.
There’s a few kms to warm up and then the climb starts. It’s beautiful but tough, and it winds through pine-clad slopes, every now and then throwing in a sharp switchback. Whether slogging up or tapping it out, though, the riders can’t help but be awed by the spectacular views – to the left, white mountains turning pink as the sun rises, and then, once the top is crested, a vista of vineyards, ribboned in mist, opens out to the right.e
The descent is a 20km treat and the feeling of flying down the other side is one of pure joy. We weave through towns and villages and along the valley bottom between the vineyards in the early morning light, for the first coffee stop in the picturesque village of Le Val.
The next stage is the longest of the entire event, a very substantial 83km and 932m of climbing. The landscape is now much more arid and Mediterranean, a mix of low-lying vineyards and climbs into pine forests and groves of olive trees. As the cyclists climb, so does the temperature. Overshoes, gilets, jackets, gloves and any other extraneous clothing is shed. The Ride Captains hold everyone together, keeping the peloton running smoothly to conserve energy and make for easier pedalling.
The highlight of the stage is the climb through Bagnols en Foret, long and arduous in the blazing sun, but offering utterly beautiful views far far out over the valley floor below.
Lunch offers a very relaxing aspect for the Portsmouth riders who arrive first, with baguettes round the pool. Unfortunately for the Folkestone riders, who set off second this morning, there’s a very swift 15 minute turnaround before they are out on the road again. But it’s for the third and final stage
Finally, it’s time for the two sets of riders to come together and 190 riders make up one huge peloton – the largest Cycle to MIPIM peloton ever – for the final stage of the day, and of the event. The stage is relatively short but features a couple of short, sharp climbs just as a final test before it’s time for the final run into Cannes.
There is a huge welcoming party waiting to greet the riders onto the Esplanade Pantiero and they cross the finish line between the two huge Cycle to MIPIM coaches. After celebratory photos, drinks, and food, there’s a final word from Bill Hughes, Head of LGIM Real Assets, thanking the riders for their palpable energy and the efforts of the fantastic Ride Captains.
It has been quite a journey. Many of the riders have ridden more than they thought they ever could, breaking their own personal records day after day. Working together as a group, supporting and encouraging each other, telling tales, stories and jokes or providing a wheel to follow or a helping hand has helped everyone to reach the finish, sunburned, saddle sore but very, very happy.