FORMER England international footballer Geoff Thomas is due to set off on his 500km charity cycle from London to Paris today (Thursday) to raise funds for blood cancer charity Cure Leukaemia.
After facing his own battle with chronic myeloid leukaemia in 2003 and having his remission confirmed in 2005, Geoff has dedicated his life to raising funds for leukaemia charities.
He said: “London to Paris is a very special event.
“Everyone who takes part has a once in a lifetime experience and a huge amount of fun but it also raisies vital funds for a fantastic cause.
“Cure Leukaemia can help find effective treatments for all blood cancers within our lifetime and I hope the cyclists keep that inspirational goal with them throughout the ride and beyond.”
Prior to getting on the saddle Geoff, who lives in Barnt Green and played for Crystal Palace and Wolves, visited the Centre for Clinical Haematology (CCH) at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital to see how the fund-raising will help save lives.
He was accompanied by nine employees from Brewin Dolphin, the headline sponsors of the event which will see almost 200 cyclists make the trip.
Cure Leukaemia co-founder Prof Charlie Craddock CBE, who will also be taking part in the ride, spoke about the impact the fund-raising from the London to Paris ride would make to patients battling blood cancer.
He also spoke about how the planned £3million capital project to develop the centre to establish the Birmingham Institute of Haematology would help hasten progress towards finding cures for all blood cancers.
Today, on the opening day, the group was due to set off from Greenwich Park on a 126.9km ride from London to Calais which included boarding the Eurostar from Folkestone.
Before they set off, the team had some good luck messages from celebrities, including Adrian Chiles and former England football captain Bryan Robson.
Today they will embark on the Calais to Abbeville leg which is 135.1km. It takes in the historic Pas de Calais and Sommes regions, along with the hills of Northern France.
Tomorrow will see them head from Abbeville to Beauvais – a 115km journey. Although this is a shorter day distance-wise, the riders will face some challenging hills. After that there will be a special reception in Beauvais.
The final day of the ride on Sunday promises to be an exhilarating 100.57km cycle from Beauvais to the French capital. The riders will become one enormous peloton for the final stretch into Paris, cycling over the cobbles to the Arc de Triomphe and finishing up beside the Eiffel Tower.
The team are due to return via Eurostar on Monday.
This year’s challenge follow’s the ‘Day Behind Tour de France’ challenge which was also spearheaded by Geoff.
The two events, so far, have raised £703.374.59 for Cure Leukaemia and Geoff has set a target of £1million for the cause.
Visit www.cureleukaemia.co.uk for more on the challenge.