Six days of cycling for Wilson and Martin
Stobart M-Sport Ford drivers Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin have completed their ambitious Alpine bike trek, finishing the 740-kilometre Raid des Alpes in Antibes six days after starting the trip on the shores of Lake Geneva.
FIA World Rally Championship stars, along with trainer Barry Johnson, had planned the testing challenge to coincide with a break in the WRC calendar. With cycling making up a significant proportion of the crew's fitness training they were well prepared for the demands of the ride, but it still proved to be their toughest to date.
Last year Wilson and Martin cycled from Land's End to John o'Groats but the pair insist that their latest challenge, which saw them cycle over the Col de Bonette, the highest road in Europe, was even harder.
Leaving from Thonon les Bains last week, the riders faced 27 of the highest climbs in the French Alps, giving them a taste of the stages that the Tour de France competitors will face when they reach the region next week. The duo took inspiration from the Tour riders after watching the classic event kick off in Monaco two days before their own challenge began.
Cycling up to 150 kilometres a day to altitudes of over 2000 metres, the team often faced several testing ascents each day, battling against high temperatures, before reaching the Mediterranean resort of Antibes on the final leg.
"It was an amazing challenge, but really tough; twice as hard as anything we've done before," Matthew Wilson said.
"We had no punctures and no problems with the bikes and we did it in the time that we wanted so I'm really pleased," he continued. "Some of the climbs were very hard. You can be climbing one col for three hours to reach the top and that's really difficult, but we made it to where we planned to stop each night. It was a great challenge for us and I really enjoyed it."
"It was a really good trip and something that we've never tackled before," Scott Martin added. "We had trained hard and a lot of preparation had gone into the ride but there's nothing that can prepare you for the heat and the high altitude that we faced."
"It was really important to me that we crossed the Col de Bonette, which is the highest road in Europe, and it felt like a major achievement to complete it. I'll definitely be watching the Tour de France with interest as they reach the Alps and cover some of the same roads," he concluded.