THE finishing line is in sight for intrepid cyclist Helen Russell who is set to complete ‘Le Tour one day Ahead’ in aid of Cure Leukaemia tomorrow, Saturday (July 25).
Riding with former England football star and blood cancer survivor Geoff Thomas, Helen is one of 11 cyclists tackling the Tour de France route one day ahead of the race itself, led by Britain’s Chris Froome.
We caught up with her as the party stopped for lunch in Allemont before tackling the 1,924 metre high Col du Glandon on the road to St Jean de Maurienne.
Saddle sore, exhausted, blasted by sunshine and rainstorms the Redditch and Bromsgrove Athletics Club member was focusing very much on the finish line in Paris.
“I’m really tired but we’re into the last week which has given us some impetus,” said Helen, aged 39.
“The weather has been a real challenge – we’ve had scorching temperatures – yesterday (Tuesday) we started in 40 degrees and then the most tremendous thunderstorm came along – it was terrifying as we descended off the Col d’Allos (2,250m) and into Pra Loup.”
However by bringing along a spare saddle, spare shoes and spare gloves she’s managed to avoid the worst of saddle soreness.
“Some of the guys are really suffering but the thing is our pain will be over shortly and it’s nothing compared to what the patients go through every day.”
The tour also got a boost with the arrival of the now disgraced seven times Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong who rode two stages with them.
“He’s obviously a controversial figure but the attention he brought us went worldwide – even the French were cheering him on.”
The aim of the tour is to mark the tenth year of Geoff Thomas’s remission by raising £1million to combat leukaemia at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
Helen has still got some way to go to hit her own target of £50,000 – to sponsor her visit https://www.justgiving.com/HelenRussell-LeTour/ .