As coach and physiologist I get asked to help prepare my clients for a variety of different sporting challenges.  This year is no different, but it might just be bigger.  This year it’s…….The Tour de France

We have all watched it on television, we all have read about it in the press and many of us have probably checked out the stats on Strava too.  The Tour de France, “possibly one of the toughest sporting events in the world?” I will let you decide that.

Tour de France route 2015
The route of the 2015 Tour de France….it looks to be another tough one!

Some numbers:

  • Stages: 21
  • 2015 route: 3,344 km (2,078 miles), 9 flat stages; 3 hilly stages; 7 mountain stages; 2 time trials; 2 rest days.
  • 24.1km/h: the slowest average TDF speed for a winner – (1919 by Ottavio Bottecchia).
  • Average calories burned by a rider each day: 6,000 (8,000 in the mountain stages).
  • 3.5 billion viewers watched the Tour worldwide, in 190 countries (2014).

This year I am coaching two riders who will be riding the Tour de France route….

Let me introduce them both to you…

Melissa Brand:

Mel April 15
Mel can usually be found racing on the road for the Ikon Mazda road team

Mel writes: I have always watched the Tour with admiration and envy.  As a female I would never be able to race THE TDF, now I have the opportunity to ride the route, the whole route.

I recently heard that Leukaemia survivor Geoff Thomas was attempting another TDF ride, as he has done previously in 2005 and 2007.  It made me think. As far as I am aware, no female rider has ever completed the whole TDF route consecutively.  Could I do this?  I hope so.

So I made the call “are you looking for a female rider?“, yes they were. And now I am signed up to ride all 21 stages of the TDF, starting on 3rd July 2015, just one day ahead of the professional race.  In undertaking this challenge I hope to raise funds for and increase awareness of the charity

The charity Cure Leukaemia works to provide access to drug and transplant treatments to blood cancer patients by helping fund the world class Centre for Clinical Haematology (CCH) at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.  The hospital provides potentially life-saving clinical trials for patients who have exhausted standard treatment options.

Working with scientists at the University of Birmingham, the CCH is now leading the delivery of a range of cutting edge clinical trials which not only accelerate access to novel therapies but also advance understanding of blood cancer in order to develop future therapeutic innovations.

The money will pay for:

  • More specialist research nurses
  • Ability to deliver more state of the art therapies, clinical trials and blood cancer treatments
  • The potential to deliver stem cell transplants as an outpatient procedure
  • A dramatically improved patient experience
  • The chance of developing cures for a range of blood cancers within the next 30 years
  • Consolidate the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s position as a world-leading centre for the development of new drugs for the treatment of blood cancer.

I will be riding with Geoff and the other riders on

I will be posting regular updates and photos on Facebook, twitter (@brand_mel) and maybe even Strava (Mel B)!

Mels fat bike
Having some fun on a fat bike to add variety in training and strength for the climbs

Please click on the link above to find out more about the route and the challenge I am embarking upon.  I would really appreciate your support in this challenge, whether it be via a message on Facebook/Twitter or a financial contribution towards my fundraising.  If you would like to donate please find the link to my Just Giving page below:

Many thanks for your support! Mel 🙂

and Michael Leather:

Michael tells us: My friend Mel (hope she doesn’t mind being called a friend, but we shared suffering on a Spanish Mountain) has on her cycling top…“Think Big, Dream Epic”…. add into the mix a 17st (108kg) accountant who has spent 25 years running his business, a dream of riding the Tour de France and an amazing charity (…. and what do you get……

Michael max testing
Michael Leather working hard in the Sportstest lab undertaking his full VO2max fitness testing

As I write this we have a c13st (83kg) accountant who has spent the last five months training under the supervision of Dr Garry Palmer of Sportstest to ride the entire route of the 2015 Tour de France in an event known as the Tour de Force (a principal fund raising strategy of the William Wates Memorial Trust).

Whilst I will be riding the whole of the Tour route (known as a WWMT “Lifer”) I have been so inspired by this journey been that I have also persuaded a business partner, Neil, and 7 of my team from the office to ride various stages of the Tour route with me.  This team includes several who have never ridden a road bike before!!  Fortunately we have all been having the assistance of Garry, and have made massive improvments already.

So,  despite having been given an original fund raising target of c£10,000- we have set out to raise a massive target of £50,000 and have already secured a grant for a local North East (Newcastle) charity of £10,000….

You can read all about our “Think big, dream Epic” adventures on our specially designed website… which also has blogs from the team, links and a radio interview about the charity and it’s work (it’s worth a look and listen!).

Michael with Mercx
Michael at the top of cote de Stockeu, part of preparations for the TdF which also included riding the long route of Liege-Baston-Liege!

The key difference and advantage I have over Mel… is that I start 6 days before her… and before you say anything I’ll also finish 6 days before her….. we have all had a fantastic time training for an epic adventure and as the clock ticks down.. it’s 8 weeks to my 54th birthday… and the official Tour de Force roll out in Utrecht.

With two months go I have high hopes to be lighter, fitter and faster up the moutains…..  You can track my progress on Twitter (@MadMike123) and follow the team efforts: @LeathersTDF

Thank you, ML


So, as you see I will be supporting two riders to complete their dream of riding “The Tour“, both have totally different needs and will require different levels of support.  Of course this is something that is not unusual to me.  So if you have a dream event, and want physiological testing and coaching support, you know where to come!

Please check out the charities that Mel and Michael are riding for, and dream big yourself!