Four amateur cyclists have conquered the Geoff Thomas (GT) 3 Tours Challenge, the grand tours in Italy, France and Spain, all one day in advance of the official races, cycling over 10,504km in 63 days. Their aim is to raise £1 million for the charity, Cure Leukaemia, to help fund the expansion of the Centre for Clinical Haematology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
On Saturday 9 September industry stalwart James Maltin (pictured, far right), who is launching his own boutique Ridgeway Investment Management in October, alongside ex-England and Crystal Palace footballer Geoff Thomas (second from right), crossed the finish line of the Vuelta España in Spain, completing the challenge and becaming the only amateur cyclists to do so.
Thomas is himself a leukaemia survivor and was treated at the centre.
He described just how challenging the journey was.
‘Right at the beginning in Italy, when we climbed Mount Etna, it was so hard, we just thought, “have we bitten off more than we can chew? Are we actually going to be able to do this?”’
In July they faced the Tour de France. Having cycled it before in 2015, also with Thomas, Maltin found this tour the easiest, with its amazing crowds.
Rather than flying home however, Maltin undertook a mammoth triathlon, cycling to Calais, kayaking the channel and then running back to Westminster.
On 18 August, the team set off on the final tour, the Vuelta España, in 40 degree heat. They faced some of the steepest race climbs in the world. The route includes a section called the Angliru, featuring a 25 degree ascent over 1km. Only two of them managed to get up without stopping.
‘There were no crowds. We were cycling through the countryside, which is like vast expanse of desert.’
Crossing the finish line is a feeling Maltin will never forget: ‘It was unbelievable. The main emotion was one of incredulousness; we’d done it! There were times when it seemed impossible. With shared will and sheer determination, we got there.’
The team are still fundraising and if you would like to donate, you can do so via Maltin's JustGiving page