2021 cycling event, The Tour 21, has now sold out with 25 amateur cyclists signed up to ride the full Tour de France route, one week ahead of the professionals from Saturday 19th June – Sunday 11th July this summer. The team, led by ex-England, Crystal Palace, Wolves and Nottingham Forest footballer and blood cancer survivor Geoff Thomas, aim to raise over £1,000,000 for national blood cancer charity Cure Leukaemia.
Cure Leukaemia, which was announced as the first ever official Charity Partner of the Tour de France in the UK in October last year, 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 21 gruelling stages of the world’s most famous and prestigious professional cycling event 150 days from now.
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.
Cure Leukaemia Patron Geoff Thomas, 56, said: “I am delighted that we have a full team of 25 cyclists signed up and committed to not only taking on this gruelling challenge but also to raising vital funds to help blood cancer patients across the UK. COVID-19 decimated charity fundraising in 2020 and Cure Leukaemia were no different and that is why we, as a team, have an even greater responsibility to go beyond the initial £1,000,000 target for the event.
“I am confident that with the team we have assembled we can do just that not only giving these amateur cyclists the experience of a lifetime but also ensuring vital blood cancer clinical trials can continue to benefit patients across the country. This will be my 5th and final Tour de France cycling challenge since I was declared in remission from chronic myeloid leukaemia in 2005 and I am determined to ensure that this is the most successful and memorable of them all.”
Cure Leukaemia Chief Executive James McLaughlin continued: “Clearly 2020 was an extremely tough year for the charity and we are so grateful to Geoff and his team for taking on such a monumental challenge both on and off the bike. I know all the riders are going to do all they can to raise £1,000,000 which will help to ensure the sustainability of the TAP network across the UK and the blood cancer clinical trials it delivers.
“We have all seen the leading role that clinical trials are playing in securing the accelerated approval of the COVID-19 vaccines and such clinical trials are equally vital for the thousands of blood cancer patients across the UK to ensure they can access pioneering new treatments with the aim of bringing us ever closer to a cure for all forms of blood cancer.”