Former England footballer Geoff Thomas has started a marathon 2,177-mile bike ride around the Tour de France course to raise £200,000 for leukaemia research.
The 41-year-old midfielder, who captained Crystal Palace in the 1990 FA Cup final, nearly died after being diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia two years ago.
But after a bone marrow transplant from his sister in January last year, he has been in remission since Christmas.
Thomas' first day of his punishing month-long trip was a 19km (11.9 mile) time trial from Fromentine to Noirmoutier-en-L'Ile, in the western Vendee region.
He and his team will then cover all the remaining stages of the 3,484km (2,177.5 mile) Tour, arriving on the Champs Elysees in Paris on July 21.
Thomas says he was inspired by American cyclist Lance Armstrong, who came back from testicular cancer to win the Tour an unprecedented six times in succession.
Well-wishers on the former footballer's web site - www. geoff- thomas. com - include his ex-England colleague Gary Lineker, whose first son George was treated for leukaemia more than 10 years ago.
Former Downing Street communications chief Alastair Campbell, who has also raised funds for leukaemia research, and the ex-Norwich City and Scotland goalkeeper Bryan Gunn, whose daughter died from the disease 14 years ago, are also backing the sportsman.
Thomas, who has so far raised nearly £60,000 in donations, won nine England caps and also played for Rochdale, Crewe, Wolves, Nottingham Forest, Notts County and Barnsley.
All the money will go to Leukaemia Research and Cure Leukaemia charities.