A word of advice for all those who aspire to win and wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France – make sure you have ridden in the Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge first.
Yes, that’s right, Joburg’s greatest race has a proud record of past and current participants pull on the most famous jersey in world cycling in France.
Geraint Thomas, the Welshman who won this year’s Tour de France, rode the Cycle Challenge for charity back in 2013. He rode with Daryl Impey, who became the first South African to wear the yellow jersey at the tour in 2013, to raise funds for the Teddy Bear Clinic, which assists abused children. Their efforts raised over R400 000 that year.Thomas and Impey are close friends, having ridden together for Team Barloworld in 2009. Thomas finished second last in his first Tour de France in 2007, the youngest rider in the race that year.
His then-Barloworld teammate, Chris Froome, who has taken part in several Cycle Challenges, rode his first Tour in 2008, and is now a four-time winner of the Grand Boucle. Thomas has ridden in support of Froome for his Tour de France victories as part of Team Sky, including the first in 2013 when he completed it with a broken pelvis after an accident.
This year, after Thomas took an early lead, Froome returned the favour and assisted his friend and teammate to the line. Froome will be hoping for a fifth Tour title next year to join an exclusive club of with five victories. Amongst those is a certain Eddy Merckx, the Belgian legend, who has also taken part in the Cycle Challenge.
The 2018 Tour de France champion rode the 2013 Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge to raise funds for the Teddy Bear Clinic (pic courtesy: David O’Sullivan and Instagram)