By James Pope
Ex-England Rugby captain and sports celebrity Martin Johnson will take on Geoff Thomas in the Geoff Thomas Pursuit Challenge at the next Revolution cycling event on Saturday, February 23.
The 2003 World Cup winner will swap his rugby jersey for Lycra as he takes to the track in a feature Italian Pursuit race, which is slightly different than a normal team pursuit as seen in the Olympics. Johnson will lead a team of six riders who will set off at the opposite side of the track to Thomas's team of six. Johnson and Thomas will set the pace racing the first lap when they will peel off after an intense 250m effort. Each subsequent rider will lead the team for one lap until there is only one rider left on each squad who will sprint it out for the line and glory on the final lap. Olympic kilometer champion Chris Hoy and kilometer world record holder Arnaud Tournant will be the anchor men on their respective squads.
The race is being held to raise awareness and funds for the Geoff Thomas Foundation, which helps provide resources to develop new medical treatments to fight leukaemia. Thomas has previously attempted to ride the full Tour de France route as a fundraiser. He hopes Johnson's involvement will spread exposure for the foundation beyond cycling.
"I am really grateful to Martin for giving up his time to support us, and I'm sure we'll have a great night whatever the result of the race!" said Thomas who has been training with Johnson at the Newport Velodrome.
"Having never ridden a bike on the track before I'm quite keen to have a go before the main event," said Johnson. "The lack of brakes is the main concern and I don't want to make a fool out of myself so we will have a few sessions at the Velodrome."