After our very first public Tour de Force 2012, the event has gathered momentum and was inundated with applications for 2013.
The Lifer places (to ride the entire route) sold out in just 20 minutes, with the Tour Tasters in the Alps and Corsica selling out within the first hour and the entire tour sold out by Christmas. Our number of participants increased by 50% to 180 riders in total with 40 Lifers and 140 other riders taking on between 2 and 9 stages of the Tour.
The Grand Depart from Corsica was hugely popular and set the tone for the event, with glorious cycling in sunshine, a great group of riders and a range of abilities from expert amateur to total novice. As ever, the camaraderie on tour was legendary, with Sarah, lead cyclist Phil and the team of mechanics, medics and physios establishing the friendly, supportive environment that makes the Tour de Force so unique.
Mechanical, medical, moral! – I can’t praise the support staff enough – the most amazing, caring and above all professional bunch I have ever met. They went FAR beyond what I would have reasonably expected. – Paul Eden
The whole team exudes competence, reassurance and openness. Everyone’s approachable and supportive. – Joe Tarragano
The event has so many important components; we raised money for the WWMT, we overcame a physical challenge, we saw a beautiful country and met some fantastic new friends. These things made it a truly memorable experience. – Nick Woodall
Our riders came from all over Britain, with 25 from Scotland as well as French, German, Canadian and Australian riders joining the peleton as well as a contingent of Brits from Hong Kong. 2 corporate teams joined us: first Team Opta who have ridden with us since 2010 and are signed up once more for 2014 – and Linklaters, who brought as many as 40 riders to the tour, including 2 Lifers.
2013 was the centenary year of the Tour de France and so the route was particularly impressive. Following the challenging but rewarding Corsican stages, the Tour went on to tackle the Pyrenees with several huge climbing days, then a swing North to Mont St Michel followed by a stretch to the South East to arrive at the foot of the legendary Mont Ventoux. Spoken of in hushed tones, Mont Ventoux is epic and considered a major challenge by any cyclist. We practically burst with pride as every rider in the peleton summited, with a mixture of tears and laughter. It was an emotional day.
From there, the route headed to the Alps for the ‘Lumpy Triple’ – 3 days of relentless mountains. For the riders who joined us here it was to prove a colossal challenge. For the Lifers, it was the icing on the cake. Finally, joined by a throng of friends and family, (many riding the final stage into Paris including our biggest Wates team to date), we celebrated a fantastic tour by partying with the best view of the Eiffel Tower and the Bastille Day fireworks that Paris has to offer.
The event exceeded all of my expectations. It has been one of the most amazing and incredible things I have ever done. It has provided me with a vault of memories that I will be able to look fondly back on forevermore. – Kerry Nadin
Check out our little video ‘Views from the Finish Line’:
It was a fantastic tour – one of the best – but even better than that, the riders and their supporters raised a staggering £425,000 (up from £300,000 in 2012) for the William Wates Memorial Trust… and counting.
The charity aspect was very important and I took time to learn about it before signing up. I was impressed by the aims and activities of the WWMT and this was a big motivation to me. It was great to meet members of the Wates family, ride with them and have their enthusiasm rub off on me. It really made the whole thing seem real and made a big difference to me. – Jake Bridges
And so to 2014. Britain is hosting the first 3 stages, with a Grand Depart from Leeds promising that the Tour de France will be on everyone’s lips this year. Our Lifer places sold out in a record 17 minutes, with the Alps once again proving a magnetic appeal for cyclists.
We are welcoming Canadians, Americans, French, Germans and more to our peleton in 2014. Fundraising is already well under way and we will be pushing for the ultimate goal to raise £500,000 this year.