James beats Wiggins to finishing line
Published at 09:06, Monday, 30 July 2012
BRADLEY Wiggins may have become the first British winner of the Tour de France.
But a Hexham cyclist beat him to the finish line in Paris – by seven days.
James Thompson pedalled the whole of the 3,500km route, completing all 20 stages in 20 days, exactly one week ahead of the professionals.
The 22-year-old took part in the Tour de Force charity challenge, and has raised more than £1,500 in aid of the William Wates Memorial Trust, a London-based charity which supports disadvantaged young people.
James, who has just finished a four-year degree in building surveying at Plymouth University, started the mammoth task on June 24, in Liege, Belgium, before arriving in Paris on July 16.
He said: “It was a wonderful experience. I got up to 56mph in the Pyrenees and some of the mountainous sections were very challenging.
“We were only getting about five or six hours sleep per night, and that sleep depravation caught up with us as the days went on. We were biking for about 12 hours per day, and sometimes a bit more.”
James, who attended Hexham’s Queen Elizabeth High School, has been a keen cyclist since childhood.
He joined the YOGi Cycling Club in Plymouth, and began competing in races, before the opportunity to take part in the Tour de Force came his way.
He was joined by fellow YOGi club members Simon Pope (46) and Chris Glazier (54), both from Plymouth, and other cyclists who took part in the Tour de Force.
James, a former Tynedale hockey player, added: “The route was being prepared for the big event, so we certainly got a taste of what it’s like to ride the Tour de France.
“There were even people cheering us on. The French were very friendly and they seem to like seeing us pass through. It was never going to be easy, but we prepared for it and thoroughly enjoyed it.”
While he was inspired by the achievements of both Bradley Wiggins and himself, James has no plans to become a professional cyclist.
Instead, he is looking forward to starting work in building surveying on his return to Tynedale.
He explained: “To be a pro I probably would have needed to be doing big events when I was 15 or 16 years old.
“I think it is time to concentrate on my career and continue to enjoy cycling in my spare time.”
The William Wates Memorial Trust was set up in 1998.
It funds projects which help disadvantaged youngsters, and provides them with opportunities in arts, music and sport.
To read James’ online blog of his Tour de Force experience, visit www.yogitdf.co.uk
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk
This week in... 1968Friday, December 6, 1968...
Prudhoe workers were queuing up at the town's employment exchange to put their names down for jobs at a new £15million wood pulp factory.
Plans for the factory, which would occupy the former ICI site, had been passed by Northumberland County Council, and it was hoped that when it opened it would turn Prudhoe into a boom town.
Many of those registering for jobs had been unemployed since the ICI plant closed down the previous July.