A HUGE charity bike relay got under way in France on time this morning, despite confusion caused by ferry strikes.
Hundreds of cyclists had been due to congregate at Portsmouth International Port last night for their 500-mile relay to be officially started by Olympic cyclist Dani King.
But instead they had to yesterday scramble to find any available ferry crossing with space in order to get to France this morning, after wildcat strikes meant Brittany Ferries continue to cancel its services.
The Beaune Challenge is an initiative of Challenge Adventure Charities sees teams of four cycling a relay of over 500 miles from Caen to Beaune, with the aim of raising £250,000 for good causes.
But whereas they were all due to travel on the same ferry last night, their only instruction was to rendez-vous on the Pegasus Bridge in Caen for the start of the relay this morning.
Speaking yesterday, Stuart Mason Elliott, who is a race trustee, said: ‘Everyone is in high spirits and looking forward to getting the ride started.
‘We’ve had to change our initial plans and it was unfortunate that Dani King will no longer be able to see us off, but I’m delighted that so many riders are coming together for the challenge.’
Brittany Ferries has cancelled all its sailings today, and it has also cancelled the following sailings on Friday:
Portsmouth to Caen at 8.15am
St Malo to Portsmouth at 10.30am
Portsmouth to Caen at 2.45pm
Portsmouth to Cherbourg at 3.30pm
Portsmouth to Bilbao at 4.30pm.
A spokesman for the firm said negotiations with unions were continuing but no agreement had yet been reached.
He added: ‘Brittany Ferries very much regrets the effect the disruption will have on our customers but
is hopeful that a resolution will be found soon, as discussions with the unions are ongoing.
‘We are recommending customers to travel to Dover where we currently have special arrangements in place with P&O Ferries and MyFerryLink to accept Brittany Ferries tickets.
For latest sailing information see brittany-ferries.co.uk/routes/sailing-updates.