A team of 25 amateur cyclists will begin riding the full 21 stages of the 2021 Tour de France route, one week ahead of the professionals in exactly 100 days. The Tour 21, which takes place from Saturday 19th June – Sunday 11th July, aims to raise in excess of £1,000,000 for national blood cancer charity Cure Leukaemia and the team are halfway to their fundraising total after recently surpassing £500,000.
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 £1,500,000 fundraising shortfall in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and The Tour 21 team, which was increased from 20 to 25 riders after this event’s postponement last summer, aim to help the charity address this shortfall in funding by completing all 3,384km of the world’s most famous and prestigious professional cycling event.
All funds raised by The Tour 21 team 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. This network enables accelerated setup and delivery of potentially life-saving blood cancer clinical trials to run giving patients from a UK catchment area of over 20 million people access to treatments not currently available through standard care.
Leading the team on his final Tour de France challenge is ex-England footballer, blood cancer survivor and Cure Leukaemia Patron Geoff Thomas, 56, who said:
“We all know that this event will be gruelling and will test us to the limits both physically and mentally but the reason we are doing it is to raise over £1,000,000 for Cure Leukaemia to claw back the £1,500,000 fundraising shortfall the charity suffered. However tough the challenge is for us it is nothing compared to what blood cancer patients have to go through and I know that from personal experience.
“I am delighted that, as a team, we have reached the halfway mark with our fundraising, but we must keep our foot down now to ensure we can set off from Brittany on June 19th knowing that we have exceeded £1,000,000 to sustain the TAP network and give hope to the 38,000 people diagnosed with blood cancer in the UK each year.”
Cure Leukaemia Chief Executive James McLaughlin continued:
“It is fantastic to see The Tour 21 team reaching £500,000 raised this far out from the start of the event but after such a challenging year in 2020. With a range of sponsorships opportunities still available for this event including the jersey, team bus and comprehensive video content of the whole 21 stage event, it would be great if companies worldwide could support Geoff and the team surpass their fundraising target.
“With this being Geoff’s final major cycling challenge, we encourage everyone who has supported him over the years can do so once again to ensure he can hang up his cleats knowing this team has made a huge impact for blood cancer patients across the UK.”