The Tour 21 team are currently riding the full Tour de France route to raise over £1m for Cure Leukaemia, the charity that played a big part in saving Geoff’s life.
WE CAUGHT UP WITH FORMER ENGLAND INTERNATIONAL GEOFF THOMAS...
How is the feeling in the camp now you’re on the home stretch?
We’re feeling good, but getting closer to the finish line doesn’t change anything. The team has learnt not to look too far ahead and take things step by step, especially when there are still a number of tough days which remain.
What’s been the best moment for you so far?
For me personally, it was completing Stage 11 – the double climb of Mont Ventoux. It’s the first time in Tour de France history riders have to climb it twice in one stage. It’s more or less 198.9km of arduous incline, but to have overcome it and say I did so without coming off the bike is a huge highlight. I certainly felt it the next morning, however!
Any unexpected incidents along the way?
Not yet for me – although there’s still plenty of time! We’ve had a few riders get the odd puncture or take the wrong turn, but nothing overly serious at the time of speaking thankfully.
What’s the reaction of the locals been like?
Nothing short of amazing. It’s strange, a number of villages seemed to have been prepared for us passing through.
School children have come by the roadside with signs to cheer us on which was a real surprise, while you of course get a bit of interest from people in and around towns who occasionally wave or shout something.
How much have you raised so far and how far to go to the target?
We’re closing in on the £950,000 mark of our £1,000,000 target. We’re in the final week of The Tour so donations right now are vital during our final push.
What does The Tour 21 mean to you personally?
It feels like my baby. We started in 2005 and have had so much support over the years, but this one surpasses everything before.
It’s also my fifth and final Tour this year, so perhaps it is slightly more significant to me, but the foundations have been put in place to ensure that it can only get better with the amount of interest we are now getting.
NBC and Eurosport are filming a documentary series of The Tour, while we’ve had real interest across local, national and international media. All this raises awareness and money for the charity and can make a real difference in the fight against leukaemia.
We see that there’s riders for the 22 edition already signed up – what advice would you give to potential riders considering taking part?
Start training now – you’re going to need it! Kidding aside, I’d advise any potential riders to get training advice which can be tailored around what you can realistically do week on week leading up to the event.
I’d also encourage anyone considering getting involved to be a part of this fantastic fundraiser. We’ve also had the first female rider on this year’s tour in Sarah Hope, and are promoting for greater diversity ahead of The Tour 22.