Stage five was definitely not for the faint-hearted. It was an onerous 208 kilometres from Estremoz to Alvito, in the heart of Portugal’s rugged, sparsely populated and hauntingly beautiful interior. The elements were changeable, but the pace was as consistent as it was unforgiving. It was one of those days when you just have to knuckle down and hammer the pedals. It was the Day of the Donkey.
By the time we reached our lodgings at the Pousada do Castelo de Alvito, There were some tired legs, wet kits and weathered faces in the bunch. Home for the night was a small castle built with Moorish and Gothic influences that is registered as a national landmark. Its handful of small, comfortable rooms – and a hearty meal nearby – were exactly what the doctor ordered.