Ex-England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio set off this morning on a month-long 2,800km ride across Europe to raise £1 million for charity.
The Rugby World Cup winner was joined on the first leg of the Dallaglio Cycle Slam by 32 other cyclists, including former footballers Lee Dixon and Les Ferdinand.
Their departure from the Stadio Flaminio in Rome on a 117km ride to San Remo marked the start of the Italian portion of the Six Nations challenge.
The team are aiming to cycle on to Paris’s Stade de France and then head to the home of English rugby at Twickenham, before visiting the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and Dublin’s Croke Park, ending up at Murrayfield in time to watch England and Scotland fight it out for the Calcutta Cup on 13 March.
BikeRadar will join them as they ride from Old Sodbury in South Gloucestershire over the Severn Bridge to Cardiff on 2 March.
The Cycle Slammers hope to raise at least £1 million, the net proceeds of which will be split equally between Sport Relief and the newly formed Dallaglio Foundation, whose beneficiaries include Cancer Research, DebRA, Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, Help for Heroes and the RPA Benevolent Fund. Donations have already topped £450,000.
This morning Dallaglio said on his blog: “Rome probably hasn’t seen snow since the actual Romans but we are at the Stadio Flaminio bright and early and it is actually snowing – what an unbelievable start to the DCS! Still, spirits amongst the 32 cyclists are high.
“Sat at dinner last night with my old friend and Six Nations rival Diego Dominguez, the exhilarating former Italian fly-half. The early start of 6am meant there was a long queue for the coffee machine! After carbo-loading with Italian pasta last night we fuel up again over breakfast with porridge and scrambled eggs.
“Campo, the cameraman, is doing the rounds while there are some tired looking faces but the overall atmosphere is one of excitement and anticipation. Diego and I do a couple of quick interviews at the stadium and my hands freeze while the Sky Sports team fits my microphone!
“We lose the police escort because of an ’emergency’ in the centre of town but manage to find a replacement car and head out in teams of eight. Team Dallaglio leads out followed by Armstrong, Wiggins, Cavendish… The first pit stop is 50km north…”