Kristof Allegaert leads as riders dash toward Stelvio

The 2,000-mile London to Istanbul TransContinental race got underway from Westminster Bridge on Saturday morning as 30 riders lined up to race unsupported across Europe.

You can follow the progress of the riders on Trackleaders.com, as they are all carrying Spot tracking devices that broadcast their location.

At the time of writing, Belgian Kristof Allegaert had made the most progress. It’s hard to say who is officially in the lead as each rider sets his or her own route, but Allegaert has covered substantially more distance than any other rider in the event.

Juliana Buhring (image by Rosie Reed Gold)

Allegaert had covered 941.45km and was not far outside Zurich, on his way to the race’s second checkpoint at the top of the Stelvio pass in Italy.

Richard Dunnett, the runner-up in last year’s round-the-world race, was in nominal second place with 830.21 km covered, and the only woman in the race, female round-the-world record holder Juliana Buhring was in the middle of the pack at 563.68km.

I think we need to go that way... (image by Rosie Reed Gold)

The hot weather in Europe is affecting some riders. Nick Dodd tweeted: “Not only is the distance killer, but the heat is unbearable. 31*C. Tactic change; i'll Ride in the morning before it gets hot. Sleep during the hot day. Carry on in the cool evening.”

Amazingly, riders are finding time for banter via Twitter. After she passed him, Nick Dodd tweeted: “I don't think Juliana wanted to join me for dinner. I guess I'm not your type ;)”

Juliana Buhring replied: “You were charming. The hour wait for food was not. ;)”

TransContinental racers, ready to go (image by Rosie Reed Gold)

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.