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Young Aussie pedals with a purpose - London to Monaco to save our seas

by Jeni Bone on 16 Aug 2016
Monaco is the final destination Jeni Bone
Arriving by bicycle may not be the standard means of creating an entrance at the annual Monaco Yacht Show - the world's premier superyacht showcase. But this year, 40 riders, including Tom Hill from Brisbane, Australia, will be pedalling with a purpose and personally welcomed by His Serene Highness, Prince Albert II of Monaco at the Palace.

The first London to Monaco Cycle Ride, 18 to 27 September 2016, is an initiative of Winch Design to support the Blue Marine Foundation, a UK-based charity dedicated to creating marine reserves and establishing sustainable models of fishing.

The 1,400km trip from London to the Prince's Palace in Monaco covers terrain as diverse as the verdant fields of Kent through the majestic Rhone Alps to the coast.

The team of 40 cyclists will be assisted by 17 highly trained staff, who have planned each of the 10 stages down to the last detail.

Tom Hill, the 23-year old Associate Director of Rivergate Marina and Shipyard, Brisbane, is preparing for his first long-distance cycling challenge. A recent Bachelor of Business graduate from Bond University, Tom is no stranger to the rigours of the sport, riding up to 350kms per week for the past four years. The marine lifestyle too is in his veins. He literally grew up around boats and boating, initiated at just two days old on a family voyage from Sydney to Cairns.

10 years ago, his parents, Judy and Bob, established the award-winning Rivergate Marina and Shipyard in Queensland's capital, which attracts some of the world’s finest superyachts annually for refits and maintenance and is considered the regional hub for its expertise and superlative skill set.

Tom is ecstatic to be involved in the ride and says its aims resonate with his own values and beliefs.

“I love the ocean and am dedicated to preserving it for future generations,” he stated. “But more than that: it's a privilege to give back in this way, undertaking this adventure with like-minded professionals seeking to raise funds and awareness for BLUE.”

No stranger to cycling tours, Tom is realistic about its challenges. “10 days straight will be intense. It will be an honour to ride alongside some of the industry’s senior proponents, experiencing the scenery and no doubt, the struggles along the way.”

Blue Marine Foundation, known as BLUE, was established in 2010 to develop sustainable fishing solutions and help establish protected marine reserves.

With the help of sponsors, including Riverate Marina and Shipyard – this year marking 10 years in operation – and global donations, event organiser Winch Design hopes to raise in excess of £500,000 to fund projects such as the protection of endangered species, replenishing of fish stocks and scientific expeditions in the waters off Scotland, Patagonia, Greece and Belize.

HSH Prince Albert of Monaco II is enthusiastic in his support of the inaugural ride and the foundation it is promoting.

“The first London to Monaco Cycle Ride is a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness on the necessity to protect our fragile oceans,” he said. “Oceans are more than ever at the heart of our common future,” said His Serene Highness. “Although they are subjected to sustained pressures, they also offer infinite solutions and unparalleled opportunities, whether of an ecological or economic nature, energy or food related.”

Participants are able to join in and cycle one of the three stages or tackle the whole distance. Their route will take them through France, all the while raising funds and awareness for BLUE.

“I’m passionate about the oceans and know that we must ensure the future of our seas,” commented Andrew Winch, owner and founder of Winch Design, who will be riding with the pack that comprises superyacht Captains, owners and representatives from yachting media.

“As a great supporter of Blue Marine, I want to make a real contribution to their wonderful work in celebration of our 30th year in business. The entire team at Winch Design is inspired to do their bit to help and I hope people within our industry will get behind this event to show their support for BLUE and do their bit for the environment.”

Commencing 18 September, Stage One of the journey will take riders from the beating heart of London, down into the steep hills of Kent to coastal Folkestone, a total of 130km. From there, riders will recommence in France, taking on the flat fast thrash through northern France to and Dijon, 561km over three days.

Dijon to Macon is the final flat day of riding, with stage six moving into the Rhone Alps, heading for Voiron, the mountains looming to the East. Gap is the final stop at the end of stage seven, familiar to fans and followers of the Tour de France and home to many of its top competitors.

Stages eight, nine and ten include the 17.5km Col d’Allos, a giant of a climb with a 6% average gradient. Then, the run for the coast and the final leg from Nice to Monaco, anticipating a Royal welcome at the Palace of Monaco.

At the finish line, besides the relief of dismounting and swapping bike shoes for boat shoes, Tom is looking forward to his first taste of the Monaco Yacht Show knowing he has given his all to get there.

“There will be that feeling of satisfaction and a real connection to the industry,” he forecasted. “Through mutual effort and exertion comes respect, which then flows on to business. You see the true mettle of a person and how they cope with the hard times, how they manage struggles and celebrate group achievement. I am privileged to be representing Rivergate, Brisbane and Australia.”

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