National blood cancer charity Cure Leukaemia has been named as the first ever Official Charity Partner of the Tour de France in the UK.
Founded in 2003 by Professor Charlie Craddock CBE and patients Graham Silk and Michael Woolley, Cure Leukaemia helps to bring pioneering drug and transplant treatments to blood cancer patients across the United Kingdom. The charity funds the Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) network comprising 12 blood cancer centres across the UK.
One of their key events is The Tour 21 in which amateur cyclists take on all 21 stages of the Tour de France route one week ahead of the professional event in order to raise funds and awareness. Next year Tour 21 will take place from Saturday 19th June to Sunday 11th July 2021, and will see a team of 25 amateur cyclists led by former footballer, blood cancer survivor and Cure Leukaemia Patron Geoff Thomas taking on all 21 stages of the Tour de France with the aim of raising £1,000,000 for Cure Leukaemia.
This partnership, announced just days before the official 2021 Tour de France route reveal, is the legacy of Geoff Thomas’ phenomenal cycling achievements since his diagnosis with chronic myeloid leukaemia in 2003, just months after finishing his professional football career, he has represented England, Crystal Palace, Wolves and Nottingham Forest.
During his treatment, Geoff was inspired by the survival stories of others and decided to cycle the full Tour de France ahead of the professionals in 2005 to raise funds. Geoff then went on to complete the Tour again in 2007, in 2015 and in 2017. This year, 15 years after he first took on the Tour, Geoff was due to ride for the final time with 18 other amateur cyclists. As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the event was cancelled leaving Cure Leukaemia with a £1,000,000 shortfall. The team is committed to completing their challenge in 2021 and through this official partnership with The Tour de France the charity is hoping Geoff and the team can exceed their £1,000,000 target and raise increased awareness of Cure Leukaemia as a leading national blood cancer charity. Speaking about the partnership Geoff said:
“I am extremely honoured that Cure Leukaemia has been named as the first ever Official Charity Partner of the Tour de France in the UK. When I embarked on what seemed a completely crazy challenge in 2005, I could never have imagined that I would not only go on to ride the globally iconic Tour de France route five times nor that our event would secure such a prestigious level of recognition from within the world of cycling.
“Through this partnership, the Tour 21 event in 2021 and onwards will open up a range of exclusive opportunities for our team including staying in the same hotels which will be used by the professionals a week later. I’m delighted all of our team has committed to riding in 2021 but we do have 5 places available for people to join us next June so if you are interested please do visit the website and get in touch.”
Yann Le Moënner Chief Executive of Tour de France organiser A.S.O. said:
“We are proud to announce Cure Leukaemia as the Official Charity Partner of the Tour de France in the UK. The charity’s work not only benefits the whole of the UK but also has a clear aim to help hasten global progress towards finding effective treatments for all forms of blood cancer and we are excited to partner with them over the next three years.”
Cure Leukaemia Chief Executive James McLaughlin said:
“This partnership is true testament and legacy to Geoff extraordinary and selfless efforts to help and inspire others over the last 17 years. In securing this partnership and association with the world’s biggest annual sporting event, we hope that it not only raises awareness of Cure Leukaemia at a global level but also provides us with the opportunity to secure increased fundraising potential from The Tour 21 and expand our range of cycling events and opportunities going forward.
“Led by Geoff, cycling has played such a key role in the growth of Cure Leukaemia since 2015 and we are immensely proud to now be officially associated with the world’s most famous and prestigious professional cycling event.”