Rugby legend Lawrence Dallaglio will lead a group of riders from Rome to Edinburgh during next year’s Six Nations Rugby championship, with the goal of raising £1 million (approximately USD1.65 million) for Sport Relief and the Dallaglio Foundation charities.
The cycling convert will be accompanied by many others during the 2,715 kilometres, 28-day trip. It will take them to Paris, London, Cardiff, Dublin and Edinburgh, with each leg of the journey being broken up into multi-day stages.
Sunday Times journalist and former Tour de France rider Paul Kimmage will, like Dallaglio, be one of the small core team which will cover the entire distance, while other fundraisers will drop in and out along the journey.
He wrote about the project in today’s Sunday Times, interviewing Dallaglio during a recent trip to Girona in Spain. There, they met up with Garmin Slipstream pro David Millar and climbed the tough Rocacorba climb with him, getting a taster for the efforts that will be made next February.
The rugby player’s bulk made the climb even more difficult. Carrying a significant amount of extra muscle, he reached the top in 65 minutes. The record is currently held by Irish climber Dan Martin, who has done it in 28 minutes 45 seconds, while Millar did it in 30 mins 15 seconds. For Dallaglio however the trip is not about speed, but perseverance; reaching Edinburgh, and the fundraising target.
“The idea was to ride to the venues of the Six Nations but looking at the fixture list it wasn’t possible to get there for every game,” the former rugby star told Kimmage. “We’re going to leave Rome when England play Italy, arrive at Twickenham when England play Ireland and we finish in Edinburgh when England play Scotland.
“We’ve split it up into six legs. Myself and one or two others will cycle the whole way but we’ll have 50 people flying in to do each leg. [Former international soccer players] Lee Dixon and Les Ferdinand are doing Leg One [Rome to Nice]. [Former international cricketers] Ian Botham, Michael Vaughan and [Olympic rower] James Cracknell are also talking about doing a leg and we’ve got support from each of the countries’ [rugby players].”
Kimmage will be writing about it for the Sunday Times. “I’m probably taking on a bit more than I chew, but that will certainly concentrate the mind,” he told Cyclingnews recently. “I hadn’t been doing very much before that but I was asked a few weeks ago to do this by the paper. As you might imagine, that has focussed my mind to get in shape again, given me the motivation to get out on the bike on cold mornings.”
Amongst the rugby players expected to get involved during parts of the journey are Diego Dominguez, Raphael Ibanez, Keith and Niall Woods, Scott Gibbs, Ieuan Evans, David Sole, Gavin Hastings and Andy Nicol.
One of Dallaglio’s motivations for the ride is the memory of his mother Eileen, who passed away after a battle with cancer in December of last year.
During his career, the former England captain was capped 85 times by the team and is one of only two players worldwide to have won both the Sevens and 15-a-side World Cups. He played on three Lions Tours and has two European Cups and four Guinness Premiership titles to his name.
Volunteers are welcome to join Dallaglio during the trip, or to donate to the cause. More details about the ride and the charities it will support are available here.
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