Monday morning dawns bright and early once again for the two pelotons of the Legal & General Real Assets Cycle to MIPIM, and it’s a quite a different day at the office for those who role out of Valence this morning.
Stage 1 is led out by Group 1 – teams Broadgate Estates and McAleer & Rushe. Both groups are now riding along the same route, with half an hour between them. For once it’s not a 6am start and both groups head out into the early morning light and the delightful sight of the Provençal countryside. They are joined by riders from the Belgian ReCycle2 and the French property industry, also both on their way to MIPIM via bicycle, swelling the peloton’s size to more than 100. It’s a lovely way to wake up, and once cold legs have warmed up, they are treated to a lovely long gentle ascent through wooded hillsides, followed by a long speedy descent full of switchbacks into the stop at Cleon d’Andran.
Stage 2 – led out by the Elliott Wood and JLL teams – is one big, long climb that takes the two pelotons much higher into the hills. It is followed by an absolutely epic descent, with fast and sweeping bends. Along the way we take in beautiful medieval villages and towns such as Grignan. A headwind on the flat ensures the group works together to get through the rest of the stage as one.
Teams Webb Yates and Aspire lead out the third stage, following a ribbon of tarmac though the vast, expansive flat vineyards of the Cotes du Rhone region, interspersed with bustling French towns, in which the riders are cheered on with cries of ‘Allez, allez”.
Lunch is next and so the next stage must feature the ladies after lunch. On the Portsmouth group, the rolling rotation keeps the pace steady until the group hits the bottom of the climb at Bonnieux, and then everyone is allowed to go at their own pace. The ascent to the medieval village perched on a rocky outcrop is both visually stunning and physically enjoyable, and it’s topped off by a 17km descent through the gorge to the flats below.
The fifth and final stage of the day sees the riders blitzing through little villages towards Aix en Provence, ably abetted by the superb traffic control skills of the French moto team, to ensure that, whilst fatigued after five long days in the saddle, everyone works well together to make it safely to their final destination.
Finally the two pelotons are reunited and it’s time to celebrate and relive the past five days before a speech from Nick Hanmer, Club Peloton CEO, and Carol Homden, Chief Executive of children’s charity Coram, remind riders of the present and the final day to come tomorrow. £522,000 raised so far and the £600,000 fundraising target is not far away…