Michelin-starred chef Phil Howard is as adept in the sporting arena as he is behind the stoves.  His long-distance Alpine cycling achievements and ski touring escapades, not to mention more than the odd triathlon and marathon, are indeed noteworthy.

But nothing compares to the mighty Tour de France… and not just one stage of it – Phil will be riding the whole route, just one week before the professionals set off on this legendary race, and all in aid of Cure Leukaemia.

The Tour 21 will see Phil joining 17 amateur cyclists, hoping to complete the full Tour de France route one week ahead of the professionals.  Starting in Tuscany on Saturday, 22 June, the riders will tackle all 21 gruelling stages of the Tour de France route – one of the world’s most demanding sporting challenges.

With a record amount of climbing over the 3,500km route, riders will navigate some extraordinary terrain between the start in Florence and finish in Nice on Sunday, 14 July, the famous Champs-Elysées route in Paris being otherwise engaged by the 2024 Olympic Games.  Prep for the challenge has been full-on.  Since January, Phil has been “slogging it out” along the roads of Surrey and beyond (way beyond) doing what’s been necessary to get “this old man into sufficient shape to ride the full 3,500km” of the official Tour de France route in exactly the same timeframe as the pros – just one week ahead of them.

Notto is chef Phil Howard's new fresh pasta restaurant on Piccadilly | Hot  Dinners

The only real difference, he says is “that I will spend significantly more hours per day in the saddle than they will”.  With an extra 55,000m of climbing to deal with along the way, this year’s route has been hailed as the most demanding in modern times.  The Italian stage ie the opening 3 days alone will demand 8 to 10 hours a day of riding.

Of his choice of Cure Leukaemia to support in his quest to conquer the mighty Tour de France, Phil explains: “I have long supported blood cancer charities and with the loss of my father-in-law to Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, it is a cause that feels very close to home.  The huge fundraising aspect of this ride is as challenging as the training itself but I am in no doubt that this will be the best source of motivation for the Herculean effort that lies ahead.”His aim is to raise at least £30,000.

“All money raised will go towards funding more nurses and running more trials for the Trials Acceleration Program (TAP).  The TAP Network allows patients to be connected with world-class and potentially lifesaving treatment that would otherwise not be available to them through standard care.”  And, there is another reason Phil’s chosen to undergo this phenomenal task… he wants to tick a life box.

He is absolutely thrilled be amongst the 18 chosen to participate. “I will have to dig deep to get from Florence to Nice but it will make all the difference to know that there are supporters out there who have dug deep to ensure that I do.  There are so many asks out there, but a heartfelt thank you in advance for any contribution to this very worthy cause.”

James McLaughlin, Chief Executive of Cure Leukaemia comments “It is always a special day when we welcome a new cohort of riders into the Cure Leukaemia family, and none more so this year with the addition of Phil Howard as he joins The Tour 21 team.  We are immensely grateful to Phil for choosing to fundraise on behalf of the charity and train for one of the toughest endurance challenges in the world of cycling.  The team is becoming a part of a very exclusive club by taking on all 21 stages of the Tour de France – a feat that very few amateur cyclists can list as part of their achievements.  The sacrifices made by him over the past 6-8 months have been inspiring – safe in the knowledge that he is making a real difference to blood cancer patients across the world.”.

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