A Saltash father-of-two has completed an epic 3,000-mile solo cycle in France.
Tom Neal followed the challenging 1951 Tour de France route to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK.
The 40-year-old set off on the ‘Tour de Tom’ from Metz and covered up to 200 miles a day, every day for 26 days.
He cycled across the plains of northern France, through the Massif Central, across the Pyrenees, through the Alps and north to Paris, facing scorching sunshine and torrential downpours along the way.
Tom crossed the line at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to a hero’s welcome after completing the final – and longest – stage of the ride, having started the day in Dijon.
Tom’s inspiration for the challenge was his father, John, who died after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011.
“I was backpacking in New Zealand and celebrating my recent marriage when I got a call out of the blue and was told my dad had advanced prostate cancer,” said Tom.
“I came home straight away to be with dad. Seeing someone you love so much struggle like that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through.”
After losing his dad, Tom moved to France and found solace on his bike, exploring the country on two wheels. His love of cycling and the French landscape inspired him to start planning for his epic adventure, emulating the riders who completed the tour of 1951 – the year of his dad’s birth.
Throughout the ride, Tom was encouraged from a distance by his wife and family in Saltash.
Tom said: “I feel very lucky to have had a chance at doing this. I’m just a 40-year-old carpenter and amateur cyclist. I’m far from being a professional athlete and this was the only shot I’ll have at being able to raise a decent amount of money for Prostate Cancer UK. I am so appreciative to have had the full support of my family and friends.
“They all know how much I wanted to do this, and I’d like to think my dad would be proud of what I’m doing.”
Nicola Tallett, of Prostate Cancer UK, said: “Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with one in eight getting diagnosed. We’re so grateful for the dedication of Tom, whose epic effort will help Prostate Cancer UK to fund life-saving research to stop this disease damaging the lives of men and their loved ones.”
To support Tom, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/toms-tour-de-france-28310