Watch video highlights of The London-Paris three-stage event, in which 450 cyclists enjoyed a Tour de France-like experience as they made their way on the 507km route to the French capital from Surrey, England. To read a stage-by-stage report, scroll down.
Stage One: London to Dover
Stage One: London to Dover Stage One of The London-Paris saw a damp, but exciting start to the event. 450 riders, including cycling legends Stephen Roche, Maurizio Fondriest and cycling professionals Colin Lynch, Karl Platt and Magnus Backstedt, gathered at Imber Court, Surrey in preparation for the big ride.
Each rider got one of these goodie bags courtesy of Chain Reaction Cycles during sign-up
This year there were a total of seven speed groups setting off at timed intervals. Other sporting stars in this year's peloton included Nigel Mansell, Joel Stransky and John Salako to name a few. The riders cycled a total of 169kms, taking them through the Surrey Hills, East Sussex, past Ashford and along to Dover.
Nigel Mansell got to the start-line after an epic journey cycling from John O'Groats in the previous days
The Yellow, Green and Red flagged time sections saw riders competing for the General Classification, the Sprinter and the Climber jerseys. Greg Mansell finished Stage One with the Yellow jersey. The Red jersey went to professional ex-German national mountain-biker Karl Platt, who took King of the Climbs by a very comfortable margin. The Green jersey went to the fastest sprinter of the day, Shaun Pearson, and this year Annette Loubser took the Pink Jersey as the lead woman, pipping Tanya Slater – the fastest woman for the last few years – to the post.
The rain managed to ease off by the time the peloton was into the swing of Stage One and held off until just before the riders boarded the boat.
Stage Two: Calais to Amiens
Stage Two of The London-Paris, through the undulating yet beautiful French countryside, started in Calais and headed south to Amiens. It was a tough stage, but all riders finished in high spirits. The elements were against the peloton before lunch, with dark clouds and a head wind sometimes reaching 40mph.
A rider gets a much-needed massage ready for the next stage
The lunch stop was in the picturesque town of Frévent and 110km into the stage. The afternoon saw the riders cover a much shorter distance and the sun finally shone through. The total distance covered during Stage Two was 169.38km with a total ascent of 1,184m.
Locals came out to cheer the riders on, bringing the event even closer to The Tour de France experience
Group One averaged a pace of 26kmph. Day one the average was 29kmph, showing how tough the conditions were. The riders contended for the Yellow, Green and Red jerseys in the flagged time sections. Greg Mansell started Stage Two in the Yellow jersey and retained his lead. Karl Platt held on to the Red jersey and stayed King of the Climbs. The Green jersey also stayed with the fastest sprinter from Stage One, Shaun Pearson, and Annette Loubser started in Pink again on day three.
The hand cyclists had another successful day, completing Stage Two in good time, despite the weather!
Stage Three: Amiens to Paris
Stage Three started in Amiens and headed 168.25km south to Paris. The ride before lunch was a long 120km, with the following 40km being cycled as one peloton. The weather shone down on the riders on the final stage – a complete contrast to the previous two stages and excitement filled the air. 'Triple crown' winner Stephen Roche celebrated the 25th anniversary of his victory by cycling into Paris on his restored Battaglin bike; the very same bike he cycled down the Champs-Élysées to win the 1987 Tour de France.
The riders contended for the Yellow, Green and Red jerseys in the flagged time sections. After only two years of riding, Greg Mansell started Stage Three in the Yellow jersey and finished The London-Paris as the overall fastest rider. Greg Mansell also took home the Green jersey as the fastest sprinter of The London-Paris 2012. Karl Platt held on to the Red jersey for the start of Stage Three and went home as King of the Climbs with an impressive win on all three stages. Annette Loubser beat the other ladies to the finish, claiming the Pink jersey in 2012, taking it from the former Pink jersey holder Tanja Slater. A record number of teams competed in The London-Paris this year. Of the 35 teams, the overall win went to SIS, followed by City Index.
Nigel Mansell and the UK Youth team crossed the finish line after an ambitious 1,350 mile non-stop ride from John O'Groats to The London-Paris start-line and onto Paris, raising money for UK Youth. Most impressive of all was group seven, the hand cyclists, who battled through terrible weather conditions and the undulating French countryside to complete The London-Paris. The hand cyclist team is aiming to raise £500,000 for The Jimmy Savile Stoke Mandeville Hospital Trust.
The triumphant riders cross the finish line in Paris
It was a magnificent conclusion to The London-Paris when rolling road closures, motorbike outriders, Skoda lead vehicles and the Police Nationale led the beautifully flowing peloton along the final stretch of the iconic cobbles to the Arc de Triomphe and then to the Eiffel Tower. Onlookers in Paris sounded their horns and cheered as the 1km long peloton passed, led by the hand cyclists and cycling legends Stephen Roche and Maurizio Fondriest. The riders worked together to finish the 507km ride and the event climaxed in an emotional finish with friends and family and flowing champagne.
CRC's Damien Duggan celebrates the end of the ride with HotChillee's Layla Smith
Lee Kincaid from CRC's Events team stayed one step ahead of the peloton along the 507km route and said: "It was a pleasure to work alongside HotChillee – they are a great team and everyone is dedicated to going the extra mile for the riders. I was on site every morning, lunch and finish leapfrogging the pelotons and branding up all the event grounds before the riders got in.
The highlight of the trip for me had to be driving around the Arc de Triomphe! It's about eight lanes wide with no road markings and lots of manic drivers! But we arrived safe at the finish grounds and got set up with plenty of time to watch the huge peloton roll into Paris with huge smiles all round."