Today has been a long day for both routes but the sun making an appearance this afternoon definitely helped lift spirits when times got hard.
Group 2 – teams Pitman Tozer and Webb Yates – lead out stages 1 and 3; Group 3 – teams HTA Design and Piccadilly Gardens – take over for stages 2 and 5; whilst on stages 3 and 6, it’s the turn of Group 1 – teams Elliott Wood and Lee Baron – to take the lead.
Day 3 starts in the dark and the rain for the cyclists of the Portsmouth route. From the moment of departure in Blois, there’s no respite from the rain for a number of hours. The morning stages are long and flat, through open fields and woods of silver birch. While all riders must do their allocated two stages per day, many are staying out to do more. During stage 3, the riders cross the Loire, and it’s a short but fast 30kms to lunch.
At lunch the sun finally comes out and for the first time, a few pale legs and arms appear amongst the peloton. The next stage is long and tough and is a test for riders’ legs, but the pace is picking up as the riders head deeper into the Sancerre region. Stage 5 is a beauty, with a long climb that skirts a huge lake followed by a sweeping descent that has everyone buzzing by the time they come in to the final stop of the day and the welcoming sight of AHMM REFUEL’s homemade cakes.
All in all, a good day in the saddle with the Portsmouth route’s longest day – at 324km – now done and dusted.
Another early start today with, yep you guessed it, more rain! A cold, grey start led to some tough conditions on the road as riders went through the Champagne region. The Ride Captains did a great job of keeping the peloton together and there were some innovative dance moves to accompany the tunes playing to keep legs moving. Luckily the sun came out just before lunch and lifted everyone’s spirits, preparing them for three shorter stages this afternoon.
Those riders not on that stage even had time to clean their (somewhat muddy) bikes in the river. A friendly local dog tried to join the ride but he didn’t have the right kit so we had to politely eject him from the peloton and we enjoyed a beautiful afternoon heading towards Dijon through more vineyards and scenic French countryside. The AHMM REFUEL stop of incredible cakes in Vanvey after stage 4 gave everyone the final push they needed to get to the end.
755km down… over half way there!
Overall, all the riders are starting to feel more comfortable riding and working together as a group, and also starting to get to know each other better, which contributes to both a better riding experience and a more sociable time in the saddle. Water and food is shared with those who have riders run out, and good conversation helps the long stages pass quicker.
Portsmouth route – best pics of the day:
Folkestone route – best pics of the day: