A TEAM of 18 amateur cyclists – including two from around Redditch – have begun riding the full 21 stages of the 2021 Tour de France route, one week ahead of the professionals setting off from Brest, Brittany for Stage 1 on Saturday June 19.
Led by former England and Crystal Palace player Geoff Thomas from nearby Stock Green The Tour 21 aims to raise in excess of £1million for national blood cancer charity Cure Leukaemia.
The team, which also features Mike Hopkins from Feckenham has already raised more than £840,000 towards that target.
The squad originally had 25 members but 7 unfortunately had to drop-out of the event due to the self-isolation requirements of the French government due to Covid-19.
With confidence the event would go ahead as planned the team’s fundraising has accelerated in the last 10 days with over £100,000 raised for Cure Leukaemia in that time.
Cure Leukaemia, which was announced as the first ever official Charity Partner of the Tour de France in the UK for the next three years, recorded a £1,700,000 fundraising shortfall in 2020 due to the pandemic and The Tour 21 team aims to help the charity address this.
All funds raised will be invested in the national Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) which has been solely funded by Cure Leukaemia since January 2020.
TAP is a network of specialist research nurses at 12 blood cancer centres located in the UK’s biggest cities and a facilitatory hub based at the Centre for Clinical Haematology in Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Just before departing for France it was announced that both Geoff and teammate Mike Hopkins, the Principle of South and City College Birmingham, had been awarded MBEs.
Geoff said: “We know the road ahead will be strenuous but knowing that we are getting ever closer to that £1,000,000 target will be our motivation. I hope that the public can really get behind us in the coming three weeks.”
Cure Leukaemia chief executive James McLaughlin added: “We hope that the public will help the team by taking part in The Tour 21 virtual challenge, buying tickets for The Ultimate Cycling prize draw or by donating to the team direct. Every penny will ensure the national clinical trial network we fund can continue to help save lives.”
For more information, or to make a donation, visit: www.thetour21.com