A formidable group of riders were given a warm send-off in Stevenage as they set off on their inspirational 1,000km ride through Europe to raise £100,000 for the Lister Hospital.


Twin Towns 1000k, a charity team set up to fundraise for the hospital, were waved off by friends, family and well-wishers at The Cromwell Hotel in the Old Town, before being supported by the Lloyds team at Bank House in Primett Road – who chose the organisation as one of their local charities to support.

The riders – including Ade Morris, Ben Austin, Brian Hopgood, Darren Heath, Graham Hoare, Peter van Poolgeest, Pete Woolmer, Stephen Hibberd, Steve Clarkson and Steve Watkins – have split the gruelling 770-mile ride into three main stages.

Dean Thompson, general manager of the Cromwell – who have backed the group throughout with generous use of the hotel as a site to host well-attended quiz nights and business events – paid tribute to the riders laying on a leaving breakfast.

He said: “We are always happy to support as it’s a great cause. What they are doing is above and beyond what most of us can do. Good luck to them.”

The first stage has been across scenic the Home Counties countryside, via Herts, Essex, Suffolk and onto Harwich Docks – but it also tested the riders with some reasonable climbs through rolling terrain past Colchester, before gradually ascending into the port and the overnight ferry to the Netherlands.

The second leg started with breakfast on the boat before treading on new ground in Holland and heading south-east towards the German border.

With Holland generally being flat it was on to Germany, with a minimal climb all the way through to Ingelheim, west of Frankfurt along the Rhine.

Graham said: “Day three was long and hot in the saddle but we arrived only 30 minutes behind schedule at 7.30pm after leaving at 8am.

“Day four to Ingelheim was probably the best day of cycling most of us have ever done – and then the hospitality of Ingelheim could not be faulted.”

To the thousands of backers in North Herts and beyond, he added: “Please keep up the incredible support – it means the world.”

The brave cyclists are hoping to raise enough money to open a prostate cancer treatment centre after the NHS successfully helped Graham in his battle against the disease.

The final leg of the ride – which the lads embarked on this morning – is the longest, and looks to be the most testing.

Captain Steve explained last night: “Day four is now done. The previous three days have been arduous, bordering on torture.

“Today we were rewarded. Only 75 miles or so, at a sensible pace, and pretty much all of it along the banks of the Rhine, which was simply stunning.

“To cap it all, we then met the good people of Ingelheim, were treated to a lovely evening meal, and picked up some notable donations from the council of Ingelheim.

“Words cannot do them justice – they were great hosts.

“I rather have the feeling it will get a bit bumpier as well – the serious stuff looks just around the corner.”

Heading south from Ingelheim, the route follows the Franco-German border past Strasbourg, falling just short of Switzerland before heading south-west to Autun, Stevenage’s French twin town.

It’s generally a gentle climb to the half-way point before a slight descent down to the outskirts of Autun, where it could be a little lumpy for the final 25 miles or so.

No doubt the team will take this in their stride, as they know the end is not too far away – with the target being to roll into Autun on Saturday.

To sponsor the heroic team, have a look at justgiving.com/fundraising/twintowns1000.

To follow their exploits, look up Twin Towns on Facebook or follow them on Twitter using the handle @twintowns1000.

Video by Engage Plus Marketing.