In 2012 we opened up the Tour de Force to the general public for the first time and we welcomed to the Tour 124 riders, most of whom had never before heard of the William Wates Memorial Trust.
24 rode the entire tour route over 21 days (‘Lifers’) while the remaining 100 riders cycled anything from 2 days to 9 days. Thanks to the supreme organisational skills of Sarah Perry and her team of mechanics, physios, doctors and support as well as under the expert guidance of lead cyclist Phil Deeker, the riders pushed themselves to their own personal limits and bonded on the road in a way that sometimes brought them to tears. Riding any of the Tour de France route is a mammoth undertaking for any cyclist. It takes months of committed training as well as unwavering support from friends and family (we encouraged children to cycle with us on the final day into Paris, and friends and family to come along and support the route into Paris as well as celebrate with us at the party on the last night) – but the rewards are plentiful.
Kelli Bayliss, 2012 Cyclist from London said “I still think about the ride most days, the challenge, the people, the meticulous organisation and most of all the wonderful atmosphere and camaraderie that was created. The event far exceeded my expectations in every way”.
Colm Collins, 2012 Cyclist from Ireland who cycled 10 stages of the 2012 Tour de Force said:
“thanks a million, the trip was an experience of a lifetime for this Irishman. Climbing that last climb and seeing the Tour de Force van at the top (along with the high five) was one of the highlights for me. No more to say really only thanks thanks thanks thanks”.
The 2012 riders impressively raised in excess of £300,000 for the William Wates Memorial Trust – and we hope to build on this year by year.
The 2012 Tour was a resounding success and we have committed to operating the tour annually into the future. 2013 sold out all the Lifer places within the first 20 minutes of sales opening in November, with the Pyrenees and Alpine stages selling out within the first hour. By Christmas, the entire tour was sold out. With a Leeds Grand Depart in 2014, we are already inundated with expressions of interest by cyclists keen to take part and we are looking forward to raising record amounts for the WWMT.
The fact that I was able to raise much more than (my £1500 fundraising target) is a testament to the quite extraordinary reason that the WWMT exists: principally that, as a family, you chose such a way to remember Will and create a legacy that will far outlive the sad and wasteful circumstance of his passing. It was a privilege to be able to contribute towards furthering the goals of the WWMT” – Chris Winstanley, Rider 2012.