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Yorkshire Cancer Research has been announced as the official charity for this year’s Tour de Yorkshire

The regional charity, which funds lifesaving research and services throughout the county, was awarded the prestigious title after being chosen from a long list of worthy causes.

As preparations get underway for the four-day cycling event, communities across the region are being urged to come together and help ‘shift gears on cancer’.

There will be a wide range of volunteering and fundraising opportunities available to help raise funds and awareness of Yorkshire Cancer Research’s work to save lives through cancer prevention, early diagnosis and bringing pioneering treatments to the region.

As part of the charity’s activity, people with a personal experience of cancer are being offered a unique opportunity to cycle the final kilometre of the route at the four finish locations of Redcar, Leyburn, Huddersfield and Leeds.

The final kilometre of all bike races is marked by a red flag known as the ‘Flamme Rouge’. Riders will set off from this point ahead of a parade of publicity vehicles called the ‘caravan’ and the professional cyclists and cross the finish line in front of the huge crowds the Tour de Yorkshire is renowned for.

Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “The Tour de Yorkshire brilliantly showcases the community spirit we’re so proud of in our county. This distinctive spirit is the inspiration behind the ‘Flamme Rouge’ ride and our ambition to celebrate life with and after cancer. It’s also a great way to promote the benefits of exercise after a diagnosis of cancer. We’re honoured to be part of this incredible annual spectacle.

“Whether it’s taking part in one of our special rides, volunteering during the weekend or organising a community fundraising event, we’re hoping everyone will come together to help more people in Yorkshire avoid cancer, get the earliest possible diagnosis and access the very best treatments.”

Headteacher and lifelong cyclist Chris Burt, from Harrogate, is supporting the ‘Shift Gears on Cancer’ campaign.

Chris, 55, started cycling as a child and has taken part in many sportives (mass-participation cycling events) and tours in the UK, Europe and North America. At the age of 40 he became a triathlete, completing all distances from sprint to ironman events, including the notorious Helvellyn Triathlon.

Chris’s active life was brought to an abrupt halt when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in February 2019. Three months later, he had surgery to remove his prostate and continued to cycle up to the date of his operation. As part of his recovery, he joined Yorkshire Cancer Research’s groundbreaking Active Against Cancer programme.

Active Against Cancer is a unique service offering free one-to-one consultations and bespoke activity programmes for people living with cancer in the Harrogate area. Exercise following a cancer diagnosis can improve recovery from surgery, reduce side effects from treatments like chemotherapy and in some cases, help prevent cancer returning.

Chris said: “Yorkshire Cancer Research has had a profound impact on my recovery both physically and mentally through its Active Against Cancer initiative.  In the summer of 2019 I was at a low point and unsure whether I would regain anything like my normal lifestyle.

“Active Against Cancer transformed my recovery, allowing me to become active again, much faster than I would have done without it. I am now back at work full time and trying to regain physical fitness through swimming and cycling in particular.”

Chris took part in the first Tour de Yorkshire Sportive in 2015, and is now looking forward to crossing the finish line once again by taking part in the Flamme Rouge ride in Leeds and Huddersfield.

He added: “I’m really enthusiastic about cycling in Yorkshire and I’m so proud of everything Welcome to Yorkshire have done in getting major cycling events to come to our region. I would never have believed that the Tour de France would go past the end of my road. To be able to support the Tour de Yorkshire and the continued presence of cycling in the county while raising awareness of Yorkshire Cancer Research is a pleasure and a privilege.

“I am hugely impressed by Yorkshire Cancer Research’s ambition to reduce cancer rates and to improve outcomes for those who have suffered from cancer and I am delighted to be able to do anything I can to promote this wonderful organisation that is transforming people’s lives.”

To get involved in the Shift Gears on Cancer campaign, click here.

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June Doncaster Echo CreateTVT Selby