Day Four: “You ride, we van!”

Normal service resumed! 3G reception in the heart of the Douro Valley is somewhat non-existent… You thought you’d lost us! No such luck.

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Cycling. Uphill. A lot. This has featured prominently in the Tour of the Douro so far, which has required a lot of support; knee support, back support and…van support?! A quick mention to the support team who have been ever-present, catering to the riders every whim and wish with Graham’s van (inspiration for the verb ‘to van’, which he does with remarkable aplomb) and the pickup, providing Lucozade, snacks, encouragement, loud music and roadside dancing when required. Heaps of infectious enthusiasm, even running with the riders on occasion…

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Back to the serious business of riding. Day Four of Tour of the Douro saw a regimented early morning departure from Miranda do Duero, headed for the magical Taylor’s estate Quinta de Vargellas, the promise of a relaxing swim across the river and a refreshing white port and tonic awaiting those who conquered the torturous undulating terrain that lay before them.

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Breathtaking vistas kept the peloton spurred on as awaited them around the next bend diverted attention from the degree of incline…! The relief, however, did not make things any easier for riders, with knees being taped, muscles screaming, and the introduction of roadside bottled water showers to prevent overheating. With temperatures reaching 35 degrees centigrade, the Tour of the Douro was certainly hotting up.

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The determination and perspiration of day four certainly paid off, with a final hill climb resulting in a breathtaking 360 degree vista from Spain to Portugal. Riders arrived at the Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas estate for the night and were immediately inducted into the traditions of the property; swimming across the Douro (a mere half a kilometre there and back), the Douro Drive (drive a golf ball across the river – only one was victorious on this occasion) and after dinner boules in the pitch black night, before stargazing at the big sky above. A tough day suitably toasted.

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