Lawrence Dallaglio Cycle Slam: San Gimignano to La Spezia, 170km

Les Ferdinand ends up in a ditch

Just a spectacular day. Clear blue skies and hardly a breath of wind.

A lumpy few kilometres to start and then downhill and pancake flat for 160km.

Decided to skip Pisa so north west to Ponsecca, then due west along the canal to Livorno. However we had plotted a route along the south side.

Joanna and I rode with Paul Kimmage (former pro) and William from Giant - a serious rider - and we figured it out. Unfortunately the entire field behind us rode 7km off road through mud and puddles, with Les Ferdinand ending up in a ditch attached to the bike.

Riding with pros is one of life's luxuries and privileges. Like skiing with a guide and following in his tracks, or having a pro caddy on a links course. Paul just keeps us together, and he and William set a great tempo up through Viareggio and Forte di Marmi, on big wide roads. A local pro tows us at 40k for a while. At one point Paul touches my thigh - which in itself was not entirely unpleasant - and gets me to drop back and hold the pace. I am seriously worried he is going to ride himself into a shape where I can't even hold his wheel.

A couple of cafe stops, some road works, a loose plate, but we roll into La Spezia at 3.15. Some 3 hours later Hugh and Greg bring up the rear. A massive effort by Hugh, who first wore cycle kit last week.

Hopefully tomorrow will be the 130km as advertised. 355km in the last two days on the bike - in Italian traffic - be glad to get to France.

For more on the Lawrence Dallaglio Cycle Slam, visit www.dallagliocycleslam.com

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