It’s here… the sixth and final day of the Legal & General Real Assets Cycle to MIPIM 2019. After an incredibly moving speech at dinner the previous evening from Carol Homden, CEO of Coram, about how the funds raised are used to help vulnerable children, the riders are feeling suitably motivated on this final morning. There are also a few sore heads amongst the bunch too, as colleagues and friends finally reunited over dinner and at the bar last night and made up for some missed socialising time.
The Folkestone route riders are treated to a small (but welcome) bit of extra sleep this morning, rolling out of Aix en Provence half an hour later than their Portsmouth counterparts. Both groups are now following the same route but staying apart til lunch. There’s definitely a sense, though, that the ‘chasing’ Folkestone peloton wants to catch up with the Portsmouth riders – and at one point they almost do! There’s nothing like a bit of friendly competition to encourage some speedy cycling.
Both groups tackle the significant climb that comes straight out of Aix with aplomb, climbing through rocky, wooded hillsides for about 10k. A dazzling sunrise takes Portsmouth’s minds off the burn as they reach the peak and descend at speed while half an hour later, Folkestone riders have a view of the mountain reflecting the sun that has risen over the vineyards. The 57km stage takes them through to the coffee stop at Le Val, an incredibly pretty town. Both groups roll out again a half hour apart for the day’s monster 85k stage with an ascent of 1,096. They tackle rolling climbs through strongly-scented pine trees, more vineyards, forests and olive groves before the final 15k climb, where the riders are allowed to climb and descend at their own pace, through the red cliffs of the Bagnols en Foret nature reserve, with jaw-dropping views dropping away to the right.
At lunch at Montauroux both groups finally come together and enjoy baguettes and salad in the sunshine around the pool. Finally all 140 riders rolled out together for the final stage, a 37k run into Cannes. It’s a beautiful ride, and features two challenging climbs with stunning views across the Provençal landscape as they wend their way through tiny villages and towns.
At 3.45pm, the entire peloton arrives in Cannes, to a huge line of waiting colleagues, friends, partners and previous riders who have all come to cheer the riders in. Not long after the Italian route, who have been struggling against a vicious headwind for the whole day, also rolls in. It has been quite a journey for both rides, with some challenging conditions and incidents to contend with, but everyone has worked outstandingly well together. The training beforehand and the relay element of the ride have both paid off, helping all the teams to stay to time and work well together while out on their road. Congratulations to everyone for their determination and spirit and for making Cycle to MIPIM 2019 another fantastic and successful year.