Bikers will escort the Torch from Rome to Minsk ©Minsk 2019

Motorcycle outriders are a familiar sight heralding the arrival of any Olympic Torch but for the journey of the European Games' Flame of Peace to Minsk, a biker club will be an integral part of the relay.

Some 20 riders from The One Chapter Belarus revved their engines outside the Church of All Saints in the host city, before setting out for Rome to rendezvous with the first of the Torchbearers when the Flame is lit on Friday.

"I'm a little anxious because the journey is quite long but this is similar to pre-competition jitters among athletes," said head of chapter Yevgeny Beyzak, before embarking on a trip of around 7,700 kilometres which will eventually escort the Flame back to Minsk.

It will be kindled in Rome at the temple of Ara Pacis Augustae, a monument which dates back to 9BC. 

The monument was built to honour the return of Roman Emperor Augustus to Rome from Hispania and Gaul and is dedicated to the Roman goddess Pax to celebrate a peaceful era in the Mediterranean.

The escort by the Belarus bikers provides an echo of an episode when the Flame was lit in Rome for the 1956 Winter Olympic Games of Cortina d’Ampezzo. 

Back then, the Flame was lit at the Capitol building in Rome and the car which took it to the airport was flanked by 100 motorcyclists.

There will be many highlights on the journey to Minsk, but there is one place even the bikers will be unable to follow, when the Flame is taken to the top of Mont Blanc.

Members of Belarus Climbing and Mountaineering Federation will begin the 4,800m ascent on the day after the Flame is lit and they expect to reach the summit on May 7.

Minsk 2019 mascot Lesik the fox meets a biker from The One Chapter Belarus ©Minsk 2019
Minsk 2019 mascot Lesik the fox meets a biker from The One Chapter Belarus ©Minsk 2019

The arrival of the Flame in the host nation will be preceded by a week in which it visits Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria and Poland before crossing the border into Belarus at Brest.

The bikers have festooned their machines with the national flag of Belarus and the emblem of the Minsk 2019 Torch relay to make the cavalcade instantly recognisable.

"We are heading on our journey with a weight of responsibility and, of course, pride in our country," said Beyzak.

"I am confident the equipment will not let us down and the Flame of Peace will be delivered on time."

The bikers started preparing for their epic ride a year ago and it took six months to finalise the route.

Some 20 additional bikes will be on standby throughout the relay in case of problems, which have been provided by Motovelo, partners of the relay.

Some 450 runners will carry the Torch on its journey, including athletes and personalities from the arts world. 

The Torch. 81cm high and 1.7 kilos, was created by Belarusian designer Yulia Braichuk, who worked with specialists at Novogrudok Gas Equipment Plant. 

Each runner wear a specially-designed uniform. 

The work of Yulia Latushkina, the uniforms feature light colours on a white background symbolising peace and purity of intentions.