Saturday 4th July will be the 17th anniversary of blood cancer survivor, ex-Wolves and England footballer and Cure Leukaemia patron Thomas’ diagnosis with chronic with chronic myeloid leukaemia.
To mark the date, Thomas himself was due to be cycling stage 9 of the Tour de France, one day ahead of the professionals, before the Covid-19 crisis meant his GT15 event had to be cancelled.
Now, Thomas, in partnership with cycling brand Ribble Cycles and Zwift, will be taking part in a virtual cycling event with potentially thousands of cyclists across the world, with the aim of raising funds and awareness for Cure Leukaemia.
Ribble and Zwift have created two challenging routes for Geoff Thomas Day, a 25km ‘Tour of Fire and Ice’ route and a more strenuous 89.3km ‘Four Horsemen’ route for cyclists with the Zwift app to take part in on Saturday 4th July. All participants will be encouraged to donate a minimum of £21 to the ‘Ribble Ride to Raise Funds’ JustGiving page to take part, with all funds going to national blood cancer charity Cure Leukaemia.
As an additional incentive to the event, every person who donates to the page will be automatically entered into a prize draw to win one of three fantastic prizes: VIP hospitality for two people at the final stage of the 2021 Tour de France in Paris, a custom Ribble bike frame worth £1,000 and a signed Tour de France jersey from the winner of the 2021 event.
Thomas, who received the Helen Rollason award at the 2005 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards, said: “It was devastating to cancel our Tour de France event this summer, but 4th July represents a great opportunity to engage global virtual cycling community and help us raise as many funds as possible towards the £1,000,000 target we set ourselves this year.
“The day will mark 17 years since I was diagnosed with blood cancer and I would like to turn this unhappy anniversary into a positive by raising funds to help others this summer. All funds raised from Geoff Thomas Day will go towards funding research nurses across the United Kingdom, many of whom have been re-deployed to combat Covid-19 on the front-line.
“It is vital that we continue to fund our national network of specialist research nurses to ensure blood cancer patients across the country have access to potentially life-saving treatments for the disease. Globally, a person is diagnosed with blood cancer every 36 seconds, so I urge Zwift users across the world to get involved on Saturday 4th July.
“Cycling has played such an important part in my life since I went into remission and I know that if the international cycling community can get behind this fundraising event, we can achieve something very special.”
Joining Geoff will be cycling broadcasters Rebecca Charlton and Laura Winter and Daily Telegraph cycling correspondent Tom Cary, raising funds for national blood cancer charity and Cure Leukaemia, while marking Geoff Thomas Day.
Charlton said: “I had the pleasure of meeting Geoff many years ago now and have enjoyed following his inspiring cycling challenges closely ever since; and supporting where possible – it is remarkable what he has achieved since beating blood cancer.
“This is a brilliant idea from Geoff and Cure Leukaemia to raise funds and awareness during this challenging time we find ourselves in. I will be cycling the ‘Tour of Fire and Ice’ on July 4th and I hope we can encourage cyclists from around the world to join in and ride to raise funds.”
Andy Smallwood, chief executive of Ribble, added: “We have supported Geoff and Cure Leukaemia for a few years now and remain inspired by his remarkable story. So, we jumped at the chance to support his GT15 event to see how we could help raise funds for Cure Leukaemia and I’m delighted that, in partnership with Zwift, we have been able to create an exciting virtual challenge for riders of all abilities.
“We will be encouraging everyone to join this special virtual mass participation event to have some great fun, take on a challenge and to raise vital funds for life-saving nurses in the process.”
To take part in one of the Zwift rides by donating to Cure Leukaemia, click here.