England manager Gareth Southgate has sent his former Crystal Palace teammate Geoff Thomas a video message of good luck as he reaches the halfway point of the Geoff Thomas 3 Tours Challenge. Thomas, who was capped nine times by England and also represented Wolverhampton Wanderers, Nottingham Forest, Crewe Alexandra and Rochdale is currently halfway through the Giro D’Italia, the first of 3 Grand Tours he will take on this year with four other amateur cyclists.
Blood cancer survivor Geoff Thomas, entrepreneur Doug McKinnon, former national chef of the year Hayden Groves, wealth manager James Maltin and chef and motivational speaker Marcus Leach are riding the Giro D’Italia, Le Tour de France and La Vuelta a España consecutively, one day ahead of the professionals.
Only 39 professional cyclists and, to date, no amateur team have ever achieved this epic feat in the same calendar year. Each rider will cycle a total of 10,504km in just 63 days of cycling. They have already cycled 1669km, the equivalent of travelling direct from Birmingham Airport to Bialystok, Poland and they still have 52 days to go.
The driving force and purpose behind the team is their aim to help Cure Leukaemia raise an additional £1m in 2017 to fully fund the expansion of the globally significant Centre for Clinical Haematology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. This transformational development will double the Centre’s capacity for patients, clinical trials and specialist clinicians. Not only will the expanded Centre immediately save more lives but it will also hasten global progress towards finding effective treatments for all blood cancers within twenty-five years. The £3.2m project has already received over £2m from local government and Cure Leukaemia must raise the additional funds by 31st December 2017.
Geoff and the team are able to take on this challenge thanks to the generous donations of the Geoff Thomas Three Tours Challenge sponsors. Chief among these are Crystal Palace and headline partner Farr Vintners, the London-based retailers of the world’s greatest wines.
The Farr Vintners Chairman is a Crystal Palace FC shareholder and life-long fan, Stephen Browett. Farr Vintners have donated £100,000 towards the challenge.
Stephen Browett, said: “Farr Vintners is delighted to be supporting Geoff Thomas in his Three Tours Challenge. Geoff was a legendary Captain of Crystal Palace Football Club and his continued fundraising for Cure Leukaemia, including this epic cycling marathon, is inspirational to us all.”
Further support, has come from the Crystal Palace FC family, who upon hearing of Geoff’s latest challenge, were determined to do their bit to support their former captain and his latest fundraising efforts.
Steve Parish, the Crystal Palace FC Chairman, said:
“Geoff is very much part of the Crystal Palace family and we are proud of his determination and courage to beat his battle with blood cancer. We are delighted to be supporting him and have no doubt that he will complete this immense cycling challenge. Knowing so few professional cyclists have conquered this feat, this is going to be Geoff’s greatest sporting challenge.”
Further support from Crystal Palace FC, came from team manager Sam Allardyce, who said:
“It’s a scary challenge. I just hope he gets the publicity and the support that taking on such a huge task deserves. For what he [Geoff] is doing, it should not just be a few hundred thousand; for me it should be a few million.”
Cure Leukaemia is a charity that is particularly close to the heart of many within the Crystal Palace FC family, and for good reason. Geoff Thomas was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) in 2003 and, after having his life saved by the charity’s co-founder Professor Charlie Craddock CBE, Geoff has been a staunch fundraiser and Patron ever since. Geoff has completed Le Tour de France on three previous occasions and this year’s instalment, The Three Tours Challenge, will be Geoff’s swansong, in which he will ride further than he has ever done before, to raise as many funds as possible for Cure Leukaemia.
Speaking of his relationship with Cure Leukaemia, Geoff said:
“I would not be here now without Cure Leukaemia and Professor Charlie Craddock, it is as simple as that. Beating blood cancer was my biggest ever challenge but in terms of sporting challenges this will go beyond anything I have ever taken on.”
Here’s Geoff’s latest video diary from the Giro D’Italia:
The team has received tweets of support from Olympic royalty in the form of Laura Kenny and Alastair Brownlee and from elsewhere in the football world including Gary Lineker, Mark Bright, Lee Dixon, Ian Wright and West Bromwich Albion’s goalkeeper Ben Foster, who intends to join the team for the start of the Tour de France prior to the start of the Baggies’ pre-season plans.
Whilst these five are taking on all three Tours there are opportunities available for keen cyclists to ride the Tour de France with Geoff and the team. There are also sponsorship packages available for companies to get involved and potentially ride sections and stages of the famous routes. All the information can be found here: www.3tourschallenge.com/partners/
Cure Leukaemia's £1m Centre Appeal 2017