'We’ll do it, even screaming in agony' - The British amateurs riding the entire Giro d'Italia route

Group of British cyclists hoping to raise £50,000 for the Toy Appeal charity

Giro d'Italia charity riders for the Toy Appeal
(Image credit: Modo 25)

A group of 15 amateur British cyclists currently attempting to ride the entire Giro d’Italia route to raise money for the Toy Appeal charity have pledged to all finish no matter how painful and wet the ride is.

Riding two days ahead of the professionals, the group are hoping to gather £50,000 for the organisation based in the North-West of the United Kingdom. The Toy Appeal aims to provide Christmas gifts and experiences for disadvantaged and underprivileged children in the local region.

After overcoming horrendous weather and sickness in the first week, two of the cyclists - Warren Hawke and Guy Wolstencroft - explained that the group's experiences so far are nothing compared to those of the families they’re hoping to raise money for.

Standing between the 15 cyclists and the finish line in Rome is another brutal two weeks of riding which includes stages in the Alps and Dolomites. However, Wolstencroft and Hawke told Cycling Weekly that the entire group would finish the mammoth ride no matter what.

“We will all get around this and get that last wheel over the line to Rome,” Wolstencroft said. “However hard we have to dig in, however hard we’re crying, screaming or in agony. We’re doing something that we love and enjoy and it’s for a really good cause.

“I’d much rather be doing this than being there with no heating on, nothing to eat and having no Christmas,” he added. “That’s much harder than what we’re doing, just pedalling up a few hills. That will get us all over the summit, and we’ll all finish this, absolutely every single one of us.”

During the first week of racing, the group faced driving rain at multiple points in southern Italy. Stage seven’s mountain top finish on the Gran Sasso d’Italia also brought snow drifts and freezing temperatures.

A former professional footballer for Sunderland, Hawke explained to CW that his experiences so far had made for some of the toughest days he'd ever experienced on the bike.

“The weather so far has not been usual Italian weather,” Hawke said. “We’ve had some absolutely frightening stages so far. Stages seven and eight were two of the hardest days of my life.”

Wolstencroft and Hawke said their experiences of the challenging weather on the Gran Sasso d’Italia very much mirrored those of the pros.

“We had snow drifts at the top and it was minus one but with the wind chill factored in it was minus seven,” Wolstencroft added. “We had a monumental thunderstorm at one point, so it was just absolutely freezing.”

“It was literally raining all day, everybody was absolutely soaked,” Hawke explained. “It was just brutal, you’re just climbing, climbing and climbing through ten foot snow drifts with a headwind to deal with too.”

“Four of the group have suffered with sickness, mainly due to the sheer levels of exhaustion.”

Despite some of their number still suffering with illness when they reached the first rest day, Wolstencroft reiterated that all of the group were determined to make it to Rome. He explained that none of them were intimidated by the prospect of several days stacked with more than 5,000 metres of climbing in the latter half of their mammoth ride.

“We’re just thinking about it stage by stage, we’ll all get through it,” he said. “Because you really come alive when you’re digging that deep, you’re exhausted and you’ve got more than 2,500 kilometres in the legs.”

“We’ll all do it and we’ll do it together.”

Dee Drake of the Toy Appeal said: “The money raised will go a long way in providing Christmas gifts to underprivileged children.”

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