Former England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio and cricket star Freddie Flintoff have today kicked off their charity Cycle Slam trek across Europe, with hopes of raising over 2 million for charity.
The cycle, which is being lead sponsored by Virgin Media, is starting in the ancient birth place of the Olympic Games in Greece. It will see the pair joined by an elite team of riders as well as friends including Lee Dixon, Graeme Le Saux and Sam Branson, with the aim of completing a 22 day cycle - finishing in Londons Olympic Park.
The 1,700 mile journey will be split into five stages, allowing up to 250 other riders to join the pair on various legs and offer their support.
The challenge has today received support from many high profile names, with Prince Harry wishing the riders all the best: "Freddie and Lawrence, here's wishing you well for your cycle ride from where the Games all began to the Olympic Park in London. The causes that you are raising money for will help some of the most needy people in our society and the impact that the charities' work will have on so many people is a fitting legacy of the Games.
"I'll be following your progress across the Continent, so I hope you don't get too sore on your travels, and come back to London safe."
The team will cycle along the length of Italy, through the towering Swiss Alps, along the famous Paris-Roubaix ride in France, and return to Londons Olympic Park on the 18th May 2012. Dallaglio, who completed the first Dallaglio Cycle Slam in 2010 from Rome to Edinburgh, said that this years challenge would be the most gruelling yet.
There is no doubt that this one is a lot harder. Whilst the distances are similar we will be doing a lot more hill climbing on this ride, going through both the Italian and Swiss Alps, with a total climbing distance of 6, 576 meters, explained the rugby world champion.
These distances wouldnt look out of place on the tour de France and when youre built like Freddie and I, its no wonder weve had a few sleepless nights. It is going to require my years of competitive experience and mental resilience. Not to mention some decent music whilst Im climbing.
The Virgin presence on the event isnt just restricted to Virgin Media, with the not-for-profit foundation Virgin Unite being invited to be beneficiaries, receiving 15% of the money raised. The funds will support young people and organisations who are involved in the extended Virgin Media Pioneers programme that will be re-launched in the summer.
To find out more visit the Cycle Slam website or check back with Virgin for regular updates on the riders' progress good luck team Cycle Slam!
Imagescourtesy of Rob Cox Photography