Cheltenham Town’s pedal power helps charity towards £150,000 target
The second London to Amsterdam cycle challenge was hailed as a huge success with Cheltenham Town FC putting Prostate Cancer UK on course to raise £150,000.
The weekend event saw more than 150 hardy souls representing clubs from The Football League pedal from Leyton Orient’s Matchroom Stadium to the Amsterdam ArenA, home of Dutch giants Ajax, between June 6-7.
That total was more than five times the number that took on the inaugural event 12 months earlier, and plans are already in place for a bigger and better event in 2015.
Prostate Cancer UK are the official long term charity partner of The Football League, and representatives from more than 50 clubs – including Port Vale Manager Micky Adams, former Republic of Ireland international striker Alan Lee and ex-Arsenal star Perry Groves joined the peloton in East London in the early hours of Friday morning.
Ex-England international Luther Blissett was also in a field that included several former players while Ipswich Town, Watford and Middlesbrough all pitched strong line-ups during a two-day ride which took place in glorious weather either side of the English Channel.
Shane Duff took on the challenge in the name of the Robins while riders representing Derby County, Brentford, Millwall and York City also collected the coveted orange jersey thanks to some stellar fundraising efforts.
Sarah Cook and Mark Burridge were presented with the orange overheads by Blissett ahead of the roll-out outside Leyton Orient FC in the early hours of Friday morning with Millwall’s Billy Taylor and Mark Pinder, riding for York City, rewarded for their day one efforts by standing out from the pack on Saturday.
Spirits were high as the event headed from East London into the Essex countryside, breaking for lunch in Great Totham before another mid-afternoon pit-stop at Colchester United’s Weston Homes Community Stadium.
The riders then headed for Harwich to complete their opening 90-mile instalment, before travelling by boat, to the Netherlands overnight.
The final 60 miles took the intrepid squad through the cycle paths and into the heart of Amsterdam with the riders convening for a celebratory group shot outside the Amsterdam ArenA.
Shane Duff said: “It was an amazing few days spent among some really great people – and it was great to see the football family getting together for such a great cause.
“I’m grateful to all the people that got behind me and there is still time to mark my achievements by sponsoring me at https://www.justgiving.com/shane-duff1. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event and will be aiming to get even more people from CTFC involved.”
Blissett added: “It was wonderful to be part of the London to Amsterdam ride again, and truly incredible to see how much it has grown in just a year with more then five times as many people joining me this time round.
“Just as the charity continues to grow as the Men United v Prostate Cancer campaign gathers momentum it was inspiring to see so many faces at the start line in East London, and there was a feel-good factor across the whole weekend.
“I’ve definitely got the bug and it will be great to saddle up again next year to continue to help raise awareness of the disease.”
Director of Fundraising at Prostate Cancer UK, Mark Bishop said: “Having so many clubs bring backroom staff, former players, managers and fans together has been a brilliant demonstration of what we call Men United: people joining the same team to fight a common opposition – prostate cancer.
“Money raised will directly towards fighting this deadly disease and help us stop it one day killing one man every hour.
“It was amazing to see 150 on the start line this year and what we really hope for in 2015 can we double that for next year so that we can do even more to raise awareness and save men’s lives.
After the successful 2014 event, to register an interest for next year’s London to Amsterdam cycling challenge, which takes place from June 12-14, 2015, go to prostatecanceruk.org/Amsterdam.
Meanwhile, to register for Prostate Cancer UK’s regular football newsletter packed full of all the latest Men United news and features by the finest football writers on the web visit prostatecanceruk.org/football.
If you have concerns about prostate cancer please call Prostate Cancer UK's confidential Helpline on 0800 074 8383 or visit www.prostatecanceruk.org. The helpline is free to landlines, staffed by specialist nurses, and open from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday with late opening until 8pm on Wednesdays.