…and they’re off! After six months of preparation, training and hard work, 49 women from the property industry began their 400km journey from Siena to Rome. Today is the shortest day at 100km and 1,500m of climbing: the biggest challenge ahead will be riding through highs of 35ºc.
A heady mix of high spirits tinged with nerves was in the air as the riders enjoyed breakfast on the hotel balcony. The remains of misty dawn skies burned away to reveal the picturesque town and valley. After a quick photo call, the group rolled out of Siena into winding roads through a picturesque landscape of golden green fields, scattered with cyprus trees, date palms and hilltop villages.
After a quick regroup at 8km, the peloton split into three groups, each setting off at intervals. The smaller groups were easier to negotiate the winding Italian roads and villages. Vineyard workers cheered the groups on as they neared the end of the 30km stage for a well-earned coffee break (featuring many fabulous local cakes) in Madonna a Brolio.
Stage two was short, but certainly not sweet, as temperatures rise to the mid-thirties, with a couple of challenging climbs. Smooth tarmac roads and sweeping descents propelled the riders into lunch twenty-five minutes ahead of schedule. They enjoyed a traditional Italian lunch of crusty bread with olive oil, Affettati Misti (cured meat platter), caprino cheese, vegetable pasta (cooked in the restaurant an hour prior) and more. Plenty to fuel them for the longest stage of the day at 43km…
Stage three was tough – with two big climbs to conquer at the hottest point in the day. The peloton took these at their own pace, although the heat started to take its toll. Everyone was riding incredibly well and spirits were high, with people keeping each other company and proving support in the form of chats, tunes and Jelly Babies.
After 100km, the riders rolled into the outskirts of Montepulciano, the town a tantalising sight nestling atop the hill. It is the location for tonight’s dinner, another delicious offering.
It has been a great first day in the saddle for everyone, with lots of support for a tough and beautiful day in Tuscany. Tomorrow promises more, both in terms of distance and climbing – but hopefully not in temperature.
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