A former England footballer is preparing to embark on one of the world's toughest sporting challenges, just three months after learning his cancer was in remission.

Geoff Thomas, who also played for Wolverhampton Wanderers, hopes to complete a 2,200-mile journey across France in three weeks this summer.

He hopes to raise £200,000 by taking part in the Tour de France, supported by a team of four other cyclists.

But before the 41-year-old can get on his bike in June, he must also complete a tenkilometre run around Sutton Park next month.

Mr Thomas, who lives in Barnt Green, Worcestershire, with his wife Julie and two children, was diagnosed with leukaemia in July 2003.

Seven months later, he received a bone- marrow transplant from his sister Kay, and last January doctors told him the cancer was in remission.

However, Mr Thomas knows he still has a long way to go - he will not know whether he has beaten the disease until 2010.

The inspiration for this fundraising feat came from Lance Armstrong, the cyclist who beat testicular cancer and has won the tour six times.

Mr Thomas said: "When I was first diagnosed with leukaemia I was given Lance Armstrong's book about his battle against cancer, and it really started from there.

"Cycling's something I've always enjoyed since I was a kid, but I was inspired by how he battled against cancer to win the tour six times."

His team will set off a week ahead of the other competitors, but are aiming to complete the challenge in just three weeks so training for the event has been intense.

Mr Thomas, who is raising money for Leukaemia Research and Cure Leukaemia, has been cycling 300 miles a week to build up his endurance.

He said: "We'll be cycling about 100 miles a day, some days it'll be nearer 140 or 150 miles. It's going to be very draining. I'm now in better shape than I ever was as a player, riding to Stratford or the Cotswolds which I'm really enjoying because there's some stunning views."

A fundraising evening is being held next Tuesday at Metro Bar, in Cornwall Street, Birmingham, to help bolster the cyclists' sponsorship.

With £ 30,000 already pledged, the team are still a long way from their target.

Mr Thomas added: " Unfortunately, when it comes to fundraising I'm not Elton John - I can't just throw a party and raise a fortune."

The new Leukaemia Centre, which is being built at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, is due to open in the autumn and will treat about 7,000 patients a year. n Tickets for the Metro Bar event cost £15 and are available from John Latham at Cure Leukaemia on 0121 452 5081 or via johnlatham@cure leukaemia.wanadoo.co.uk