September 23rd, 2016

Tearful Helen’s Tour de force

“I AM absolutely shattered” — that was the verdict of cyclist Helen Russell after successfully completing her fund- raising Tour de France challenge one day ahead of the professionals.

The Redditch and Bromsgrove Athletics Club triathlete has been one of 10 riders with former England footballer and cancer survivor Geoff Thomas who took part in the event to raise money to combat leukaemia and blood cancer through the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

“We finished in Paris on Saturday which was fantastic. To ride around the Arc de Triomphe and see all our families there and then finish by the Eiffel Tower ­— I think all of us had tears in our eyes it was so emotional,” said the 39 year-old.

But she admits it will take a long time to recover from the ride which left her with ten stitches in an eight-inch leg wound, saddle sores and aching legs, feet and neck, as well as total exhaustion.

“I’m still in a state of shock that it’s all over but once it’s sunk in I’m sure we will all be amazed at what we’ve done,” said Helen, who is looking forward to a summer off the bike and doing some open water swimming at Ragley Hall and Upton Warren as part of a recovery programme.

The Tour de France One Day Ahead saw the riders tackle the same 3,360 kilometre route as the professional event, won by Britain’s Chris Froome, covering 21 stages which included seven mountain stages with five summit finishes.

The aim was to raise £1 million for Cure Leukaemia to mark the tenth anniversary of Geoff Thomas’s remission from cancer.

“I think when we signed up for this, not one of us knew just how tough it would be, but it’s nothing compared to what cancer sufferers go through, and that’s why we did it to raise funds for them,” said Helen.

To contribute to Helen’s target sum of £50,000 for Cure Leukaemia, visit