Geoff Thomas, 55, Worcestershire

Cure Leukaemia Patron

In early May 2021, it didn’t look like this event could take place and yet on Sunday 11th July 2021 we made it to Paris having not only completed one of the toughest ever Tour de France routes but, more importantly, achieving our goal of raising £1,000,000 for the charity that helped save my life 18 years ago.

I am immensely proud of the whole team including those who weren’t able to join us in France, the crew led by Andy Cook and everyone involved with the charity back in the UK. Without all of these people this event would not have happened.

Raising £1,000,000 is hard and I would like to thank Farr Vintners and all our sponsors and everyone that has donated to get us to our target. We will enjoy this achievement but there is still so much to do to ensure blood cancer is eradicated and I look forward to assembling our Tour 21 team for 2022. You never know, perhaps I do have one more Tour in me…. ”

Many thanks for your support

Geoff

@GeoffThomasGTF

Rob Cotton, 54, Cheshire

Ex FTSE250 CEO and Non-Exec Chairperson

To ride the Tour 21 was the ultimate physical and mental challenge. It drained my body completely and utterly every day and left me completely empty. My mind spent every stage frozen by the simplicity of pain and the serenity and beauty of the scenery. At the end of the of the day there was the modest reward of friendship, food, rehydration and sleep.

To finally see the Arc de Triomphe come in to view riding down the Champs Elysée was to feel all of those burdens removed. Joy and love for each of my fellow cyclists, who I had ridden shoulder to shoulder for an eternity, replaced all of the pain and suffering. Every single emotion tingled and was replaced by a sense of joy that was unfathomable.

At this point I reminded myself that this is nothing in comparison to helping find a Cure for Leukaemia and helping those sufferers from blood cancer to live. Knowing that in my own very small way had made a difference and I felt totally humbled by the enormity of it all. Then the tears flowed. Viva la Tour 21!!!

@robcotton1

Steve Faulkner, 35, Loughborough

 Senior Lecturer in Sports Engineering

Taking part in The Tour 21 and riding the full Tour de France route in 21 days was the opportunity of a lifetime. It was 3 weeks of both physical and emotional highs and lows as all of us made friendships and memories that will last until our dying days.

For me, this was always more than the ride itself. As a former cancer patient I saw it as my opportunity to provide hope and inspiration to others who find themselves in the fight against cancer, to show them that it is not the end but can open doors later in life you never thought would be possible. I had my own challenges during the ride, but I have learned more about myself, what motivates me and how hard I can drive my body in the face of extreme physical challenge.

Of course surpassing our £1,000,000 target will have the longest-lasting impact, and knowing that we have helped save countless lives and enhance scientific knowledge is something of which I will always be incredibly proud.

@SHFaulkner

John Ford, 53, Bedfordshire

Head of Business, Marshall Land Rover, Bedford

The Tour de France has been my number one aspirational event to compete for as long as I can remember.

I have completed a number of endurance challenges in the past, but this really is going to be the hardest (and the best) To be able to compete in such an iconic challenge for 21 days is so exciting (and scary).

I love the fact that it will test all of my physical and mental strength for such a long period of time. I really enjoy team pursuits, so to be able to work closely together with such an amazing team on this event, in addition to raising a great deal of money for such a worthy cause has to be worth all the blood, sweat and tears.

@johnford1801

Hayden Groves, 45, Broxbourne

Chef

This was my 5th three week Grand Tour since 2015 for charity, & with a bigger group this year was arguably the most rewarding both on and off the bike. As a proud Patron of CureLeukaemia I saw my own individual lifetime total this tour surpass £215k.
The group going beyond 18 individual riders on day one and gel not just like a team but a ‘family on the road’ was only surpassed by smashing this years collective Milllion pound fundraising target as we rode into Paris.
As a lifelong cyclist I am no stranger to a tough day (or three) in the saddle, however to witness close hand once again what some individuals put themselves through day in, day out for the challenge & fundraising was nothing short of remarkable !
Lifetime memories and friendships were forged on that challenging 3500km big lap around France.
@hayden1974

Sarah Hope, London

Global Credit Financing & Solutions, Deutsche Bank

I endeavour to take my passion for cycling and combine that with my desire to help others.

This will be the ultimate challenge both physically and mentally, and I couldn’t be more excited to use something I love so much (cycling) to benefit Cure Leukaemia and the incredible research they support.  I am honoured to be part of the Tour 21 Team.

@sarathletica
@sarathletica

Mike Hopkins, 61, Feckenham

College Principal/CEO

I am immensely proud to have been part of the Tour 21 team this year, not only to have completed the entire Tour de France one week ahead of the professionals but most importantly to have been part of raising over £1million for Cure Leukaemia. This money will have a significant impact on the work Cure Leukaemia does and will leverage far more money to further the research and support for the disease and one day soon find a cure.
Tour 21 was 3 weeks that will live me forever and was without question the toughest thing I have ever done both physically and mentally. At times was beyond belief. Completing it was a major achievement that only those who have done it can truly understand the physical and mental pressure. I would like to pay tribute to all who were involved, from the team members who lived, worked and rode so well together, to the support team who were nothing less than exemplary in their support throughout, to the Cure Leukaemia Team who set this up, made it happen and worked tirelessly to get us there despite the major hurdles this year.
Finally, I want to thank Geoff Thomas who suggested I do the Tour and who’s selfless devotion to Cure Leukaemia persuaded me to do it.
I lost my father to the disease 4 years ago. He was the driving force for me to do it and his memory got me through the really bad days on the tour. Whilst I couldn’t help him, I hope I have done something to help others who will be saved because of Cure Leukaemia.
@MikeHopkins13

David Lewis, Surrey

Tax Partner – PwC UK

hat an epic once in a lifetime experience. From all perspectives it exceeded expectations – the difficulty, the pain, the relentless mountains, the sheer exhaustion and the daily routine will stay with me forever.    Major lessons learned were that there is no “flat” in France and there are no easy stages, with the mental challenges being as tough sometimes as the physical challenges.
However, eclipsing all the tough dark moments were the incredible positive experiences and the wonderful memories created.  The team spirit, the camaraderie, the banter, the lifelong friendships developed, the assistance given and received to and from riders who were in a better space in the moment, the incredible support crew, the honour of riding the TDF, the stunningly beautiful countryside and the unbridled joy at hitting the ambitious £1m fundraising goal.
If you are thinking of it, do it as it will likely be an experience of a lifetime.  Respect the tour however and prepare as best you can.

Tim Marshall, Cheltenham

A Chief Risk Officer With Siemens Financial Services

My experience was full of highs and lows. The camaraderie across the whole group of riders and support staff was great. And the support staff made it as easy for us as they could, their support was tremendous.

Clearly a lot of the stages were challenging, some in the extreme – these really tested both my physical and mental strength to the maximum. And that’s when the depth of our commitment to why we were doing this kicked in.

Remembering the cause, the difference the money would make to peoples lives and our own personal anchors really helped. Overall it was an awesome experience; I still can’t believe I completed what is widely considered to be the Worlds most gruelling sporting event and, more importantly, that we collectively reached our fundraising target.

Nigel Murray, Harrogate

COO Booths

I didn’t really know what to expect from The Tour 21. In every respect I got more, much more, than I could have possibly imagined. Whether be the challenges, friendships, hardships, laughs, tears, enjoyment, setbacks, fulfilment or the overall sense of accomplishment and achievement.

But more than anything I’m proud, proud to have been part of a team who have made a huge positive difference to the lives of so many people, people that we will very likely never know or meet – and that feels really special.

Richard Edghill

Commercial Real Estate Special Situations, Deutsche Bank

I am joining former England, Crystal Palace, Wolves and Nottingham Forest footballer, leukaemia survivor and Patron of blood cancer charity Cure Leukaemia Geoff Thomas, to cycle the full Tour de France route one week ahead of the professionals in 2021. The Tour 21 will take place from Saturday June 19th – Sunday July 11th this year and we will take all 21 gruelling stages and 3,470km of the Tour de France 2021 route a week ahead of the professionals. As a team of 25 amateur cyclists, we are committed to raising £1,000,000 for the charity that helped save Geoff’s life. All funds raised from this event will be invested directly into the national Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) network which Cure Leukaemia began funding from January 2020 allowing them to open and run clinical trials for pioneering treatments for the disease. Patients from an increased catchment area of over 20 million people will have access, as a result, to potentially life-saving treatments.

Andy Parker, 54, Kettering

Partner, Cooper Parry

I am immensely proud to have completed one of the toughest ever Tour de France routes and helping to raise over £1,000,000 for Cure Leukaemia. I have made friends for life and it was so inspiring to learn of the back stories to many of the team on the way. Such as Sarah Hope who lost her brother in early 2021 and how much she’d have loved him to be part of the journey and Steve Faulkner, a leukaemia survivor battling additional physical challenges the 3 weeks threw at him.

Our team gelled so quickly given so many months training in isolation and we developed genuine camaraderie within days. I was struck by how cold, wet and hard the Pyrenees were just when we thought we’d broken the back of the Tour after the double ascent of Mont Ventoux but the endless banter, especially regarding the repetitive nature of the food, always kept our spirits up.

But despite the challenges I will always feel immense pride and a sense of privilege to witness the stunning beauty and experience the brutality of the French mountains. We descended like falcons diving for a kill and climbed like snails in no particular rush but this was never a race, it was always to achieve our goal of raising £1,000,000 for Cure Leukaemia and we did just that. It is an experience I will never forget and I would recommend this challenge to anyone.

Matthew Fell, 40, Beckenham

Director, Deutsche Bank

As a life-long Crystal Palace fan, it is a genuine privilege and honour to be part of Geoff’s Tour 21 team, and take on the challenge to raise a significant amount of much need funding for an amazing charity.

Riding the full Tour as part of a cycling team is a true bucket list item – I am a keen long distance triathlete, although cycling is actually my weakest discipline so this will be a material personal challenge!

@matthewfell79

Gary Apps

Director, My Fish Company

I am joining former England, Crystal Palace, Wolves and Nottingham Forest footballer, leukaemia survivor and Patron of blood cancer charity Cure Leukaemia Geoff Thomas, to cycle the full Tour de France route one week ahead of the professionals in 2021. The Tour 21 will take place from Saturday June 19th – Sunday July 11th this year and we will take all 21 gruelling stages and 3,470km of the Tour de France 2021 route a week ahead of the professionals. As a team of 25 amateur cyclists, we are committed to raising £1,000,000 for the charity that helped save Geoff’s life. All funds raised from this event will be invested directly into the national Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) network which Cure Leukaemia began funding from January 2020 allowing them to open and run clinical trials for pioneering treatments for the disease. Patients from an increased catchment area of over 20 million people will have access, as a result, to potentially life-saving treatments.

Ian Taylor, 49, Birmingham

Managing Director – Conventions & Exhibitions, The NEC Group

We all love a good stat, particularly cyclists. There’s plenty to choose from now that we’ve completed Tour 21 – we rode all 21 stages of the 2021 Tour de France route, which means we cycled 3490km and in doing so climbed 49,000m (including a double ascent of Mont Ventoux on Stage 11) and spent a whopping 143 hours in the saddle over 3 weeks. Or how about the hundreds, if not thousands of croissants, baguettes and energy gels we consumed, not to mention the 7-8 litres of water we each drank every single day. There’s only stat that really matters though – together, the team raised over £1m for Cure Leukaemia and the Trials Acceleration Programme and in doing so improved the life chances of people battling the disease.

The support we received along the way was heart-warming and astonishing – thank you to every single person that donated, sent messages of support and followed our progress, you made a huge difference and it means a lot to us as individuals and as a team.

Matthew Townsend, 46, Cheshire

Chief Executive, Ultimate Creative Communications

It was a challange of extremes. It pushed me to excruciating levels of pain and physical suffering I’d not experienced before. Yet the feelings of joy, pride, achievement and happiness were off the scale too. Battered by the heat, cold, rain, wind, altitude and occasional loneliness when cast out on a mountain for hours on end, were counterbalanced by being part of a team so strong, so unique and so supportive that we could overcome any obstacle.

It’s very hard to believe we cycled the entire 2021 Tour de France. A once in a life time opportunity that challenged us in so many more ways than just the cycling. But more than that, we became a close knit team that strived towards a higher purpose. Achieving our goal of raising £1M for Cure Leukaemia with the support of thousands of people around the world, will go down as one of my life’s biggest achievements.

@Ultimate_Matt

Nicholas Trbovic, 29, London

Institutional Foreign Exchange Derivative Sales, Deutsche Bank

What can I say – the epic challenge is complete. Before I left I knew I was in for a special few weeks but I couldn’t comprehend quite how memorable / life changing / brilliant the experience would be.

I’ve made friends that’ll last a lifetime, memories that’ll last even longer and as a team, we’ve changed the lives of thousands who’ll unfortunately be diagnosed with Blood Cancer. To spend time with Geoff Thomas, ex England footballer, cancer survivor and all round amazing man was a true honour, his dedication to making a difference is truly inspiring.

I’m humbled to have been given the opportunity to be involved with such a fantastic cause and count myself extremely lucky to have shared it with a great group of people. I’ll never forget it.

@nick_trbovic

Guy Wolstencroft, 51, Cheshire

CEO My Hearing Group

Euphoric to have been chosen to make a difference for so many others! The World’s most famous, toughest, spectated and historic cycle race.

However brutally tough it will be and how deep and dark the places we have to go to – pales into insignificance compared to those who we will help.

@r8uge