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It's our version of the Tour de France!

PUBLISHED: 15:00 23 July 2010 | UPDATED: 21:58 01 August 2010

THEY may not draw the huge crowds that greet Lance Armstrong and his fellow cyclists in Paris.

But a group of intrepid fundraisers got on their racing bikes to embark on their own version of the Tour de France this week, when they set off from Lowestoft bound for Paris.

THEY may not draw the huge crowds that greet Lance Armstrong and his fellow cyclists in Paris.

But a group of intrepid fundraisers got on their racing bikes to embark on their own version of the Tour de France this week, when they set off from Lowestoft bound for Paris.

A dozen cyclists - comprising 10 from Lowestoft and two from Essex - are cycling to the French capital on a 450-mile ride in aid of the charity Children with Leukemia.

Featuring Bannatyne's Health Club members, the group left town for Paris on Tuesday hoping to arrive tomorrow in time for the final stage of the Tour de France on Sunday.

Nick Esser, fitness manager at the health club in Peto Way, is among them.

He told The Journal: “Our members have been training really hard for this event and are ready to take on what will be a very tough challenge. The motivation of raising money for important causes has spurred us all on and everyone at Bannatyne's has been really supportive.”

The members have spent several months training for the challenge using a range of facilities at Bannatyne's along with regular cycle practice on the roads around Lowestoft.

Mr Esser, an experienced member of Lowestoft's Velo Club Baracchi and the club's 50-mile time trial champion, has worked with event organiser Andy Podd to prepare the team.

“There has been a real buzz about the challenge and the team are showing real commitment to supporting Children with Leukaemia,” Mr Podd said. “I am really looking forward to when they pedal into Paris, which will be a real achievement and something they should be very proud of.”

As well as Mr Podd and Mr Esser, the team comprises: Mark Ford, Colin Nicol, Peter Whybrow, Graham Daldry, Andy Kay, Hugh Gatenby, Steve Howlett, Mark Saunders, Ray Knights and Miguel Morgado.

Their progress can be tracked via a web page on Facebook. Regular updates, photos and video will be posted on the page, which can be found by searching “Facebook for Lowestoft to Paris Tour”.

Even before the group set off, £500 had been raised. Anyone who would like to donate to the cause can still send cheques to event organiser Andrew Podd by making them out to Children with Leukemia, and sending them to 355 London Road South, Lowestoft, NR33 0DY.

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