Fleetwood businessman back after completing Tour de France route for charity

A Fleetwood-based businessman is back home after completing all 2,300 miles of a Tour de France cycle trek and personally raising more than £30,000 for charity.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 4:55 am
Gary Apps with his bike, before the challenge

Gary Apps, owner of the My Fish Company on the town’s Harbour trading estate, raised the funds for the national blood charity, Cure Leukaemia..

He was part of an 18-strong team of amateur cyclists taking part in the Tour 21 team challenge, who between them have now smashed the £1 million target they set themselves.

The team pushed themselves to the limits, ,enduring seemingly endless climbs up French mountains and never deviating from the very course which seasoned professions tackle in the actual Tour de France event.

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The team reach Paris, cycling past the Arche de Triomphe

Gary 49, of Pilling Lane, Preesall, says he was inspired take on the challenge after former cherished colleague Dave Towne, of Fleetwood died from the illness in November last year at the age of 72.

Gary said: "Getting past that finishing line was one of the most amazing things I've ever experienced.

"The sheer relief and the sense of achievement was absolutely incredible - I was a blubbering wreck!

"It feels very worthwhile, not just because of the physical and psychological challenge of getting through the actual Tour de France route, but the fact that we have between us actually raised more than a million pounds for a really good cause.

The team feel jubilant at the finish in Paris

"Ii is something I'm proud of and I'll never forget.

"Dave was a big part of it, for me, he started me off."

Gary says it was tough at times, and early on he injured his knee and feared he would be unable to finish the course but was helped by a masseur and a physio.

During the ride he also lost another close friend to cancer, back in England, which he said was emotional.

The team were led by retired professional footballer Geoff Thomas, who survived leukaemia himself and is patron of Cure Leukaemia.

Just before setting off on the challenge Geoff, who captained Crystal Palace in the 1990 FA Cup final, was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

After the team competed the trek they were congratulated by Chris Froome, winner of the Tour de France in 2015, 2016 and 2017.