STAGE 8 – Friday 3rd October


Prades to Banyuls Sur Mer – 120 kms – 1310 metres

We did it!  It’s finally over.  The end of an amazing and testing 8 day cycle over the Pyrenees.  It was a huge relief to reach Banyuls.  The day started in positive spirits as we departed Prades.  We all thought the last day was going to be more of a gentle spin down to the seaside but we couldn’t have been more wrong (as usual).

We had a long 20km climb once we got started.  It was not the steepness of it, just the long distance and the fact that on day 8 our bodies were getting set up for a relaxing weekend already.  We reached the 1036m summit of Col De Palomeres in good spirits as everyone then thought that was the hard work over.  Lots of photos and a bit of food then on a further 40km’s to our lunch destination of Ceret.  From here we had what was thought to be a simple 50km road cycle to Banyuls.  However, after being led into a Mediterranean housing estate with what was said to be the steepest climb of the challenge, approx 18%, with a stomach full of food we had thought wrong.  We took a testing way down to Banyuls which was hard but equally rewarding to us all.

We got to Banyuls where the Pyrenees meets the Mediterranean at approx 6pm to a beautiful evening with the sun just setting.  A crowd welcomed us into Banyuls with many of the family and partners of the team there and even the mayor of Banyuls showed up.  It was Port all around and then into the freezing cold sea for a swim.

No time was to waste this evening as we had an official end to the cycle event hosted by Gondola’s Harvey Smyth, the man responsible for coming up with idea of this 8 day challenge.  Awards were handed out and then it was onto a Court Jury headed up by Damian Hopley, Simon Hunter and Nigel Garfitt.  Many penalties were handed out and hardly any appealed against.  There were some funny ones and some we cannot mention for security reasons.  The Channel XXL offense did seem to carry the most controversy!

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