tour de will 2018

This August, most people will be relaxing on summer vacation or as Mountain Guides, working during the peak holiday period. However, this year, along with a small group of friends, I will be undertaking a challenge that will test the endurance, stamina and mental strength developed in my years of mountain guiding and personal challenges that I have achieved.

I will be cycling the entire 1968 Tour de France route - 4.651 km of distance with 56,125 m of climbing in 24 days...

Why have we called it the 'Tour de Will'?

Will is the main protagonist of this project, I've skied with Will over the years and once our conversations converged on cycling and endurance events, he invited me to join him and some friends on 'The Vampire Ride' (Mt Ventoux to Alpe d'Huez in a day 265km - 7200m). This annual cycle challenge continued over the last couple of  years with the Tour du Mt Blanc (1 day - 330 km - 8000m) last year. This group knew that a significant event was required in order to celebrate Will's upcoming 50th birthday (mine was last year). It didn't take long before the seeds of a multi-day event with an uncertainty of outcome were sown and so it seemed appropriate to mark it with a 'Grand Tour'  - a 'Tour de France' route. As Will is celebrating his 50th year in 2018, the idea of attempting to cycle the entire 1968 Tour de France route - 50 years on was decided on - 4.651 km of distance with 56,125 m of climbing in 24 days. We have cycled hard single days before but not back to back like this - how hard can it be?

Are you doing this for charity? Can I sponsor you?

This level of endeavour had to be recognised with raising funds for charity and Will has chosen to support two charities fighting diseases that have impacted his and many other families. Our 24 days of endurance will be nothing compared to the daily effort required to cope with these conditions that affect so many people and their relatives. Click the links to find out more about the charities we are supporting.

I haven't reached out for sponsorship before, but I believe that the scale of this challenge and strength of the causes we are supporting merits it this time. Your support would be greatly appreciated. If you would like to donate then please click the link below which will take you to the Virgin Money Giving page for the event. We are hoping to raise £50,000 and all the raised funds are going to the charities and not being used for any logistical costs.

You can follow us as we attempt the 1968 Tour de France route trying to raise £50,000 for Cancer Research and Harrison’s Fund. Click on the buttons to go to the social media page. Pedals start turning 1 August - come and join the fun!

Each edition of the Tour de France is unique, so what made the 1968 route, which was the 55th edition, particularly special?

The 1968 Tour de France at 4651 km and 56,125 m of climbing over 24 days compares with the 2017 Tour de France course of 3540 km and 25,000 m of climbing over 23 days. It was a true Tour of the borders of France and entered Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Andorra and Spain. The longest day was 327 km... Of the 110 riders who started in 1968 only 63 finished. 

Many people that we have spoken to (including former Tour riders) question if we can complete this sort of distance in the same number of days without the benefit of a peloton and amusingly observe we won’t have any of the 'supplements' prevalent in the 60's.  All I will say is that it will take a great deal to stop us. 

The 1968 Tour de France was sandwiched between the untimely death of Tommy Simpson and the emergence of the all‐conquering Eddy Merckx. In an attempt to address the issues of doping in the peloton, it was heralded as the 'Tour de Santé' (the Tour of Health) and thus started at the spa town of Vittel. It was the last time that national teams competed against each other. Great Britain started with a strong team but it's riders had mixed success across the three weeks of racing and only four finished in Paris. Barry Hoban won the second of the eight stages he would eventually win but oddly this year it was a mountain stage and not a sprint. At 4651 km there has not been a longer tour since. It was a Tour de France in the old style with many stages over 200 km and one day of over 300 km. It still contained days when there were two competed stages, the reason for the protest lead by Bernard Hinault in 1978. There was only one transfer (a journey between one day's finish and the next day's start) after stage 14. It was a true tour of the whole of France but also ventured into four other countries: Luxembourg, Belgium, Spain and Andorra. It included the cobbles of Roubaix, the mountains of the Alps, the Pyrenees and the Massif Central, the rolling roads of Normandy, the entire Atlantic coast and a classic finish in a velodrome on the outskirts of Paris. The cyclists climbed over 56,000 m - over 6 times the height of Everest. In 1968 Dutchman Jan Janssen won in the third smallest margin of all runnings of the tour. On the final day's time trial he overturned a 50 second deficit to win by 38 seconds and thus won the Tour without having worn the 'maillot jaune' during it.