Meanwhile women’s leader, Pippa Handley tackles the Passo dello Stelvio

Kristoff Allegaert remains on course to win back-to-back editions of the TransContinental Race.

The Belgian, winner of the inaugural edition of the race from London to Istanbul last year, is currently heading through Croatia with a huge lead over his nearest challenger, the British rider, Josh Ibbett.

At the time of writing, Allegaert has covered an astonishing 1,784km since leaving from Westminster Bridge at 8am on Saturday morning, while Ibbett, from Brighton, is a couple of hundred kilometres behind.

Ibbett is yet to cross the border from Italy into Slovenia, putting Allegaert a full country ahead.

The race is fully unsupported meaning riders have to carry their own supplies, although they are allowed to stop at commercial premises for meals. They are not required to follow a set route, but do have to call in at three checkpoints on the way to the finish in Istanbul.

Those are the Café au Reveil Matin in Paris – if that rings a bell, it’s where the first ever Tour de France set off from in 1903 – Prato dello Stelvio in Italy, and Mount Lovcen in Montenegro.

That lack of a fixed route is an important thing to bear in mind when it comes to working out who is leading, with the women’s race provide a striking example.

Seven women were among the 89 riders who took to the start in London. According to the leaderboard, it is a close battle between two riders at the top apparently separated by just 4km.

The live tracking map provided by Trackleaders.com on the race website tells a very different story, however.

Edinburgh’s Pippa Handley has already passed through the second checkpoint and is now on the Passo dello Stelvio, while Vasiliki Vouzali of Greece is currently still in Switzerland, well behind the Scot.

Although on the leaderboard the latter appears to be just 4km behind in terms of the distance each has covered, she is in fact much further back on the road.

The difference is explained by the fact that while Vouzali took a Channel ferry crossing to Calais, Handley headed across to Dieppe, meaning a much shorter bike ride on the London to Paris leg.

For much more about the race and to follow the progress of the riders, see Transcontinentalrace.com.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.