Kettering cyclist ready for 21-stage Tour de France £1m fundraiser
18 amateur cyclists will set out from Brest in Brittany, to ride the 21 stages of the iconic Tour de France
A Kettering cyclist is ready to take to the saddle to take on the gruelling route of the world's most famous bike race - the Tour de France.
Andy Parker will join an 18-strong peleton of amateurs as they set out from Brest in Brittany to ride the 21 stages of the iconic Tour de France, starting on Saturday, June 19, one week ahead of the professional riders.
Raising money for Cure Leukaemia, they will ride the same 3,500km course and climb the equivalent of nearly five times the altitude of Mount Everest.
Led by former Crystal Palace captain and England player Geoff Thomas, who became an MBE this weekend, the cyclists are bidding to raise £1m.
Fifty-four-year-old Andy, who is taking part in the event for the second time, said: "Having ridden the Tour in 2017, I feel like I have prepared well, losing about 8kgs or 9kgs in weight and committing a huge amount of time to training.
"This wet and cold spring has posed a challenge but using an indoor bike has been a fantastic help. The problem with having ridden it before though is I also know how tough it can be.
"I describe myself as ‘a bloke who rides a bike’. I am still shaped more like the rugby player I was for so many years and those mountains are hard.
"Think of climbing up a mountain as steep as Rockingham hill for two hours, riding to the bottom and doing it all over again – some days are as tough or tougher."
For the 23 days over which the event spans, the riders will follow a simple pattern - ride, eat, sleep, repeat. There will be two rest days to allow for some recovery.
The 18 riders are raising money for Cure Leukaemia to help with crucial clinical trials for new drugs to combat the disease.
Already more than three quarters of the way to their target, the knowledge of the reason why they are riding is spurring on the cyclists in what is one of the world’s toughest annual sporting events.
Andy said: “I'm asked why am I doing this? If I am honest, when I met Geoff four years ago, I was excited about the opportunity to ride my bike in this incredible event. But as I have learned more about the charity and the clinicians who saved Geoff’s life from leukaemia and ended his footballing career and remembered the children I have worked with in rugby - some who made it and others who didn’t - and the friends now who are battling blood cancers, this is so much more than riding a bike."
Click here to support Andy's Just Giving page and help the Team 21 raise £1m.
Cure Leukaemia fund research nurses and clinical roles at 12 blood cancer centres across the UK. These roles form the Trials Acceleration Programme network giving patients access to pioneering and potentially life saving treatments through clinical trials.