A BARNT Green resident and former England footballer will ride the full Tour de France route one day ahead of the professionals.

Geoff Thomas, former England, Crystal Palace, Wolves and Nottingham Forest footballer, has announced he will ride the full route to mark 15 years since he was declared in remission from leukaemia.

July 4 2019 marked 16 years exactly since Geoff was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia and told he had just three months to live.

Luckily, he lived close to Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Cure Leukaemia’s co-founder professor Charlie Craddock CBE.

Under his care, Geoff was able to access the latest treatments for this form of blood cancer enabling him to undergo a life-saving stem cell transplant as his sister, Kay, was a perfect match.

Reflecting on this time he said: “I was so lucky. Had I not met Charlie (professor Craddock), been able to receive the latest treatment for the disease and my sister not been a match I would not be here today. So many patients I met during that time didn’t make it and that’s why I have dedicated my life to giving back ever since.”

During his treatment Geoff drew inspiration and comfort from Lance Armstrong’s book It’s Not About The Bike which detailed the American’s own battle with cancer.

Geoff added: “It gave me hope that there could be a future for me and it’s the reason I took up cycling, and the rest is history.”

In 2005, just months after being declared in remission from blood cancer, Geoff defied the odds and first took on the full Tour de France route, one day ahead of the professionals.

Since then, Geoff has taken on cycling’s toughest challenge three more times to raise funds to support others.

And in 2020, he will ride more than 3,400km again, one day ahead of the likes of Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas with the aim of raising £1m for Cure Leukaemia.

Mr Thomas, patron of blood cancer charity Cure Leukaemia, said: "I am looking for a team to join me for my last tour.

"It’s a year away so there is time for people to prepare for this experience. I’m not going to dress it up, it is tough, really tough but it is amazing what people can achieve when they have a focus and determination to succeed."

Cyclists who are keen in joining Geoff should go to www.GT15.co.uk where they can register their interest.

It costs £10,000 per rider to take part initially with a commitment to raise at least a further £20,000.

Geoff added: “It is vital that the fundraising is not forgotten about in this story – it’s why I took up cycling and it’s why I am going through the pain of another Tour. To finish my cycling career knowing that we have raised at least £1m for this fantastic charity would be so special to me."