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Devizes farmer on the trail of champs
Devizes farmer Chris Combe cycled down the Champs Elysees in Paris a week before British cyclist Bradley Wiggins clinched his Tour de France win.
Mr Combe, 49, of Roundway Hill Farm, had been taking part in the Tour de Force, a sponsored cycle ride along the identical course being taken by the professionals a week later.
Despite the challenging 4,000-kilometre distance, much of it up precipitous mountain roads in the Alps and Pyrenees, Mr Combe completed the distance and enjoyed every moment of it.
He said: “My darkest day was when we were cycling the Grand Colombier on our first day in the Alps. One of the cleats on my pedals broke, meaning that I had to pedal harder with the other leg.
“As a result, I strained my thigh muscle and the next day we had our second day in the Alps with climbs like the Col de Madeleine to look forward to.
“I was given a massage in the saddle and, although it was really painful, it got better.”
The schedule was punishing, rising at 5.30am each morning, taking on a huge breakfast to fuel them for the day, then cycling upwards of 250km.
Mr Combe said: “I really pushed it and managed to arrive at the hotel by 6.30pm. Some of the slower ones didn’t get in until gone 10pm and still had to shower, change and get some food down. But the next morning, there they were, ready for the off.
“It was a big family atmosphere and you got to know others doing the whole course, known as the Lifers, very well indeed.”
The cyclists not only had to cope with the Tour de France course, but with the French traffic. Unlike with the Tour proper, the roads were not closed off. But there were no serious injuries and everyone completed the course, raising an astonishing amount of sponsorship for the charity the William Wates Memorial Trust, which raises money to support disadvantaged young people through arts, sports and education.
Mr Combe said: “We were set a target of £200,000 sponsorship but by the start of the Tour we had already reached £250,000 two stages from the end. So I think the target has been raised to £300,000 now.”
Anyone who would like to sponsor Mr Combe can do so online at www.bmycharity.com/ChrisCombeTDF2012