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FEATURE ❘ SANTIAGO TO GIBRALTAR


the summit overlooking the town of Regua and the Rio Duoro. A magnificent sight. After admiring the wonderful views of the river and vast canyons overlooked by the modern concrete bridge which carried the motorway, came the biggest climb of the route. 11 km with an average gradient of 3.4 %. Upon reaching the summit the riders continued towards Trancoso in the process riding through the city of Lamego, one of the largest cities in this region. From a few kilometres away the riders could see Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios (Shrine of Our Lady of Remedies) overlooking the city.


THE RIDERS STOPPED FOR SOME


OVERDUE REFRESHMENTS After having some refreshments in a local cafe the riders continued towards their destination. Travelling on the N2 they had to look for the N226 which would take them to Trancoso via the towns of Ponte Nova, Leomil, Ponte de Abade to name a few, peaceful picturesque localities. There was a slight northerly wind which was helping the riders along, there were no clouds in the sky making the views even clearer, though the temperature was increasing by the hour reaching the maximum 32 degrees at 3 pm The last climb of the day was the approach road to Trancoso, the city centre surrounded by the majestic medieval walls of the city’s castle which caught everyone’s eye.


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It was great to finally have our hotel in sight, only a few hundred metres to go after the brow of the hill. It was a great feeling but unfortunately to our surprise it wasn’t going to be that easy. There was one more hurdle to be jumped. After riding for 5 hours and a total of 380km over 3 days, a cyclist’s worse fear made an appearance - cobble stones! During this last portion of our ride, our bodies had to suffer more vibrations than being spun in a washing machine at 800rpm, and endured 300 metres of sheer pain in various parts of our bodies.


Finally we met the support team outside the hotel, it was great to see them especially after having already organised the checking in of our hotels rooms as they had done on our previous stops. Tomorrow Stage 4 from Trancoso to Castelo Branco


Trancoso - Castelo Branco


Keeping to accepted practice after checking their bikes, the riders set off at 8.30 am sharp. Danny Sene, the nominated road team captain for the ride, as one the most experienced riders in Gibraltar, ensured that the other team members are ready to go at the stipulated time.


In this stage the luminous jacket was handed over by Ian Howes, who had been covering the tail end for the last three


stages, to Mark Bates. It is the role and responsibility of the back marker to be the last rider of the team. This in effect serves two purposes, to act as a warning to following traffic and to provide information whereby those in front can at a glance check that all riders are accounted for. It was going to be another hot day, not a single cloud in the sky could be seen. The most challenging parts of this stage were a couple of important ascents. The first one at 45 Km to reach the city of Guarda and then later in the route after the small town of Fundao at 100km. Even though the riders had covered 120km in temperatures averaging 28 degrees with a maximum of 38 degrees, and having accumulated 380 km over the previous stages, the riders still had the energy to reach average speeds of 38km/hr along the last stretch of the stage, along undulating straight roads with little traffic. Riders at the front began to rotate at interval periods providing protection for the others from the draft thereby assisting everyone in maintaining this high speed. In no time at all the riders covered the remaining distance of 20km and found themselves in the outskirts of the city. On this occasion even though the riders were armed with maps of the location of the hotel finding it was not that easy as it had been on previous stages. The riders had to endure a few more hills and interchanging carriageways. Finally after 6hrs 7mins on the saddle all arrived safe and well. The total ascent of the day was 1540 m.


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