Soprano Laura Wright and former Paralympic champion Danny Crates yesterday completed the 68-mile first stage of the Women’s Tour as part of an ten-strong team of SportsAid fundraisers.
In a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the team cycled from Bury St Edmunds to Aldeburgh in Suffolk on closed roads ahead of many of the world’s top riders – including SportsAid alumni Sarah Storey, Laura Trott, Katie Archibald and Lucy Garner – before watching British rider Lizzie Armitstead of team Boels Dolmans win the stage in 2:39:53 ahead of Germany's Lisa Brennauer from team Velocio-SRAM. Lizzie then collided with photographers and has sadly had to withdraw from the rest of the race due to injury.
On her first fundraiser for SportsAid since becomming an ambassador in March, Laura Wright described the day as “an amazing experience”.
"The whole team was better than I could have ever imagined," she added. "I got to ride with a Paralympian, with the CEO of SportsAid, and we got to know everyone.
"I just really enjoyed seeing what the route was going to be like for the riders themselves and to feel what it was like to be a woman taking part in the race. I'm very proud. I've got so much respect and admiration for these athletes. For the dedication that they show and the hard work they put in, there is so much preparation and time that goes into this, I have so much respect for them, especially now my legs are feeling like this!
"Already I can see it's had a really positive impact [on SportsAid]. There is that next generation of athletes out there and what I want to do as an ambassador for SportsAid is get people enthused about supporting the charity financially or by taking part in a charity event. There are so many ways you can get involved and for me it's just going to go from strength to strength, so I'm really proud to be an ambassador."
Danny Crates said it was "a cracking day".
"The weather, the route, it’s all been amazing," he continued. "The highlight was having the police outriders with us, you get a sense of what it might be like to be a pro - just a little bit slower!
“I hope people have been introduced to SportsAid today and the amazing work that SportsAid does. For young people coming in to sport hopefully they'll get to a level where SportsAid will be able to support them and when they make that transition into the junior and then senior ranks, I hope local businesses who have seen us cycling past will want to get involved and help those local athletes. They do need that level of support not just financially but the recognition that they deserve as well.”
So far the team have raised almost £3,000 for SportsAid, with Laura still to complete the second leg of her challenge when she takes part in the Great East Swim this weekend.
"I'm really looking forward to the Great East Swim on Saturday," Laura continued. "Today was all about the lower body and Saturday will be all about the upper body. I'm really looking forward to doing something in my home county again to raise money and awareness for SportsAid. I can't wait."
So far the team have raised almost £3,000 for SportsAid. Please support their efforts by visiting virginmoneygiving.com/team/LauraWright