Geoff Thomas reluctantly cancels Tour de France event to raise £1m for Cure Leukaemia

Date published: 19 April 2020

Littleborough-born blood cancer survivor and Cure Leukaemia patron Geoff Thomas has reluctantly announced the cancellation of his GT15 Tour de France challenge with view to completing it in 2021.

Geoff and 18 other amateur cyclists had been training to cycle the full Tour de France route, a day ahead of the professionals, this summer with the aim of raising £1,000,000 for national blood cancer charity Cure Leukaemia.

Their fundraising would directly fund the UK Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) network which comprises 12 blood cancer centres across the UK. The specialist research nurses funded within these centres allow pioneering clinical trials for blood cancer to run benefitting a catchment area of 20 million people and many of these nurses have now been redeployed to help run clinical trials to fight the COVID-19 virus.

Unfortunately, due to the unprecedented global impact from the COVID-19 crisis, Geoff and the charity have made the decision to cancel the event with a view to completing the challenge next year, a decision that the whole GT15 team are in complete agreement with, despite the main Tour de France announcing its postponement to 29 August this summer.

Thomas, 55, who was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in 2003, said: “I am devastated to cancel this event which was due to be my final Tour de France challenge. Whilst the official organisers have announced the new date there is still too much uncertainty and risk from a logistical and operational perspective for our event to take place. However, I am so grateful that the majority of the team have already assured me that they will complete the event in 2021.

“Our aim was to raise £1,000,000 for Cure Leukaemia to fund our amazing research nurses across the UK, many of whom have been redeployed to directly fight COVID-19 on the front-line and I am so proud that, as a team, we have already raised over £350,000. I want to thank everyone involved in GT15 for the hours of training and fundraising they have already dedicated to this challenge and we will still do what we can to get as close to our £1m target this year.

“I also want to thank our fantastic sponsors for their support especially our official headline sponsor Farr Vintners who have committed to the event in 2021. We have made this decision with a heavy heart, but we are now even more determined to go well beyond the £1m target when this event can take place in 2021.”

Geoff played for Rochdale in the early 80s, went on to play for England and appeared in an FA Cup Final in 1990 with Crystal Palace. He cycled the entire Tour De France route to raise money for Leukaemia Research in 2005 in just 21 days, the same time schedule as the professional bike riders.

He received the Helen Rollason award at the 2005 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards in recognition of this feat and for showing outstanding courage in adversity.

Cure Leukaemia Chief Executive James McLaughlin said: “After careful consideration and communication with Geoff and the team and despite today’s announcement, we decided that it is the sensible and right decision to cancel this year’s event. I am immensely grateful to all of our major sponsors and event director Andy Cook for their understanding of the situation and their continued support.

“In cancelling the event, this inevitably creates a potential significant shortfall and we will be doing everything we can for the remainder of the year to ensure we can provide vital funds for the amazing research nurses we fund at 12 blood cancer centres across the UK so they can continue to help save lives.

“I want to thank all of the GT15 riders for their phenomenal dedication to training and fundraising for Cure Leukaemia and their understanding of this decision.”

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