The Lotto-Soudal pairing are calling the challenge ‘The Final Breakaway’
Lotto-Soudal duo Thomas De Gendt and Tim Wellens have set off on their 1000 kilometre adventure ride from Italy to Belgium.
The Belgian hardmen finished their last race of the season, Il Lombardia, on Saturday and hit the road for a long ride home.
Tackling 1000km over six days with their kit loaded up on their bikes, De Gendt and Wellens will travel over the Alps, through Switzerland to France and finally home in Belgium.
De Gendt posted on Twitter on Sunday: “Day one is already finished. 186km in seven hours. We have a nice pizza on the halfway point and started the San Gottardo with a nice tailwind.
“Beautiful climb, fast downhill and a strong tailwind until the finish.”
The pair tested their bikes loaded up with kit two months ago and are riding with saddle bags as well as luggage on the handlebars and the top tube.
Setting off on Sunday from Como, where the 241km Monument Il Lombardia finished the day before, the pair plan to ride through Switzerland in two stages, over the San Gotthard to Basel.
They will then pass the Vosges in France, cut through Metz and Luxembourg, the Ardenne and home to Flanders.
The last day will be the longest, with the final push over familiar roads to Semmerzake, where De Gendt lives.
Wellens actually lives in Monaco, but they decided the 400km from Como would not be enough of a challenge.
Last month, Aqua Blue Sport team-mates Conor Dunne and Larry Warbasse rode an eight-day tour in Italy and France, around 1100 kilometres. It was their #NoGo tour since the team, folding this season, pulled out of the Tour of Britain.
De Gendt said they had not been inspired by Dunne and Warbasse’s adventure, as the Belgians had already been planning their challenge.
Adventure cycling appears to be growing in popularity within the professional peloton.
Earlier this month, EF Education-First Drapac announced that their riders would be taking part in ultra-endurance events as part of an “alternative calendar.”
The news came as part of a new sponsorship deal between the team and British clothing brand Rapha.
Pros could be taking part in events like the Three Peaks cyclocross race and the Transcontinental ultra-endurance race.