More than 200 amateur riders brought Paris to a halt on Sunday afternoon when they streamed into the French capital to complete their 500km cycling challenge in aid of Cure Leukaemia.
After setting off from Greenwich Park on Thursday at 8am, the ‘London 2 Paris: Inspiring the Revolution’ peloton’s hard graft in the saddle was complete when they pedaled past the Arc de Triomphe to arrive at the finishing post, next to the Eiffel Tower, at 4pm.
It was an emotional moment for former England and Crystal Palace midfielder Geoff and his family, with wife Julie, daughters Madison and Georgia and sister Kay, who provided him with a lifesaving stem cell transplant, all completing the ride with him.
Cure Leukaemia Patron Geoff said:
“The four days on our bikes were absolutely fabulous. Since my illness, I can’t produce tears and I was grateful for that at the finish because I would have been a blubbering mess.
Riding with my family, I really started to fill up at the end. I’m so proud of them. They’ve been with me all the way through my battle and they’ve done fantastic.”
As the post-ride party began in blazing Parisian sunshine under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, there was a special moment for Geoff and fellow L2P rider Professor Charlie Craddock.
The Cure Leukaemia Co-Founder is credited for saving Geoff’s life after he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in 2003 and given just three months to live, and the duo toasted the tenth anniversary of Geoff being in remission.
Geoff is over halfway towards his target of raising £1million for Cure Leukaemia and the work of Professor Craddock through this summer’s L2P and ‘Le Tour – One Day Ahead’ challenges.
“All of these riders have been raising funds for Professor Craddock which will bring new hope to leukaemia patients,” he added.
So effectively, there’s already thousands that have been helped by the money they’ve raised.
If we can build on it, and keep beating that drum, we’ll try and eradicate this disease because there are some great people that we’re funding."
The L2P peloton also included England and West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Ben Foster, England Under-20s coach Aidy Boothroyd, ex-Crystal Palace winger John Salako, former Birmingham City defender Darren Purse and Gary Lineker’s son George, also a leukaemia survivor.
The first leg of the gruelling 80-mile-a-day challenge saw the L2P peloton ride to Folkestone before taking the Eurotunnel to Calais. With rolling road closures, they cycled to Abbeville on Friday and pedalled deeper into France to Beauvais on Saturday – before their Paris finale on Sunday.
Later that evening, Professor Craddock joined Geoff and fellow Cure Leukaemia Co-Founder Graham Hampson Silk in delivering heartfelt thank you speeches to the riders during a gala dinner at the Pullman Montparnasse Hotel.
The evening’s crowning moment came when a hilarious parody video of Uptown Funk, produced by Cyclevox and starring the L2P riders, was shown on a giant screen.
WATCH: Uptown Funk Parody Video
Geoff’s attention now turns to his grueling Le Tour – One Day Ahead challenge. From July 3-25, he returns to the continent with ten amateur riders to cycle the entire 2015 Tour de France route, completing each of the 21 stages a day before the professional race.
“Hopefully, I’ll be back in Paris in four or five weeks with another nice big smile on my face,” he added.
“The One Day Ahead event is again about raising money for a great cause. If over the two events we can reach our £1million target, I’ll be so proud.”
How funds raised for Cure Leukaemia help save lives