The Westpac Tour 200 is one of more than a dozen Tour de Cure events held around Australia each year that together with the annual Signature Tour de Cure raise more than $5 million to fight cancer. $3.1 million has already been raised in 2017.
This Sunday more than 120 riders will set out for three grueling days in the saddle. The first stage leaves Panania RSL bound for Bowral where a dinner will be held and a $10,000 donation made to a local cancer related charity. The tour then heads to Kangaroo Valley, Kiama and Wollongong on Monday where a fundraising dinner is being held at the Novotel. Several $10,000 donations will be made to local charities in addition to two larger donations. The last leg will then see the cyclists ride from Wollongong to Barangaroo on Tuesday.
Westpac Commercial Banking Illawarra senior relationships manager Andrew Whitaker said the ride is part of the bank’s 200 year celebrations. “There is about 100 Westpac riders taking part. Westpac runs its own foundation that helps charities and volunteers. This is an extension of it. We want to do something for the local community.”
Mr Whitaker said he is doing the ride because “cancer effects so many families. Having lost family members to this terrible disease I would like to raise awareness and assist in the process of gaining a cure”. He has ridden bikes for about 14 years but has done little in the last 18 months. He knows just like the Hotham to Hobart Signature Tour de Cure that will see participants ride 1200 kilometres in nine days there will be no easy days this weekend.
“When we came in on our first assessment ride for this funnily enough Mr Mark Beretta was hanging onto a pole in the middle of Mossman taking photos as we came travelling past. This ride is made up of mostly bankers so they are getting everyone up to speed. We have had three assessment tours. There is a fair bit of work preparing to ride just 100 kilometres. And backing up for three days is pretty hard. It is also interesting riding in a peloton. On the middle day we ride 160 kilometres. On the other days we ride around 107 kilometres,”. he said.
Mr Whitaker said many of the cyclists doing the tour were doing it because they had lost someone close to cancer. “I only lost my mother-in-law 18 months ago to pancreatic cancer”. He is the only rider who has experienced a big accident during the three assessment tours. It was during a downhill leg near Waterfall when he clipped the back wheel of the rider in front. “I was doing about 50kph at the time and separated part of my shoulder”.
Among the riders this weekend is David Lindberg who is the head of Westpac Commercial Banking in Australia. Westpac is covering costs so all money raised goes to fighting cancer.