You’ve watched your cycling heroes battle it out on the route of the Tour de France each year, but have you ever imagined what it would be like to ride the entire route (or even just a couple of stages) yourself?
The Tour de Force is a charity cycling even that follows the route of the Tour de France each year, one week ahead of the pros. They have a limited number of coveted places to ride the entire route – all 21 stages and 3,360km as a ‘Lifer’. But if that seems too big a challenge (or you just can’t persuade the boss to give you 3 weeks off work) then you can choose one of their 9 ‘Tour Tasters’ that are anything from 2 to 10 stages of the 2016 tour route.
The route is fully supported: signed and supported with medics, physios and massage therapists, mechanics (including spare parts and spare bikes), luggage transfers and rider transfers between stages where needed. Hotels are all included in the cost as well as all food (three course evening meal and breakfast in the hotel and at least four feed stops during the day, every 40km or so). Phil Deeker of Rapha/Cents Col Challenge fame is their lead cyclist and they pride ourselves on running the best supported and friendliest event out there.
Riders pay for their own costs to participate, then raise a minimum fundraising target towards the William Wates Memorial Trust who are behind the event. The Trust gives grants to charities that work with the UK’s most disadvantaged young people to help keep them away from a life of crime and violence. They mostly achieve this through the mediums of sport, arts and education.
Sarah Perry who organises the event says:
“The Tour de Force is a phenomenal opportunity for anyone to do something truly extraordinary in a fun, friendly, inclusive and supportive environment.
"While the Etape du Tour is on every self-respecting road cyclist's bucket list, to take on an extra stage before in our Tour Taster 9 or even the whole four-stage Alpine section of the Tour (Tour Taster 8) would be a real test. Our Tour Taster 5 is a chance to ride all the Pyrenees stages (including, of course, Andorra) and continue on for a final stage (12) on Ventoux. If you’re not happy with mountains, then the earlier stages of the tour are for you – much flatter but there are some very long stages in there too.
"We design our Tour Tasters to suit everyone – and whatever you choose, when you do take part just one week later you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the buzz of watching the pros cycle exactly the same roads on TV.”
Registration opened yesterday, but there are still a few places left to be snatched up. So if you’re interested in beating Movistar Team to Paris in 2016, check out their website: tourdeforce.org.uk