Not for Profit

Published: April 24, 2022 | Updated: April 25, 2022

Former footballer Sylvain in team cycling 808 miles from Sandbanks to St Tropez in ten days

Sylvain Distin, front, with (left to right) Will Irons, Jemma Harding, Dave Taylor and Martin Fitzpatrick.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Former professional footballer Sylvain Distin is part of a team of ten cyclists attempting to ride 808 miles (1,300 km) from Sandbanks to St Tropez in just ten days.

The international pedal-powered challenge, which kicks off on May 18, is believed to be a world first.

Every penny donated will go towards the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.

A £15,000 target has been set with more than £9,000 already raised.

Sylvain, 44, played for Manchester City, Portsmouth, Everton and AFC Bournemouth, among others, and lives in Poole.

In total, he made more than 400 English Premier League appearances.

Sylvain said: “I like to push myself and see what I’m capable of, although I’ve never taken on anything quite as big as this before.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can achieve all together as a team – and enjoying St Tropez once we’ve crossed the finish line!”

The self-funded mission was the idea of Will Irons, inspired by childhood memories of holidays in St Tropez, and brought to life with his brother-in-law, Dave Taylor.

Dave said: “We have all been touched significantly by the tragic and shocking events unfolding in Ukraine and want to help by supporting the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to provide food, water, shelter and healthcare to refugees and displaced families.”

For fellow team mate Jemma Harding, the two-wheeled expedition is more than just a physical challenge – it’s about overcoming an accident that changed her life.

The 42-year-old, pictured left, was involved in a collision with a lorry while riding her bike in London and needed 12 hours of emergency surgery.

She said: “I didn’t know if I would be able to walk or cycle again.

“After the accident, I moved back home to Dorset to recover, I got stronger and stronger, and I just knew that I would get back on a bike one day.

“I didn’t want to let what had happened defeat me.

“It’s going to be really tough, but it is for a really important cause, and I have every confidence in our amazing team.”

To support the Sandbanks to St Tropez challenge, please visit the JustGiving page by clicking here.