Bikers live American dream with race victory

Doncaster's John Tanner (in the white) leads eventual winner Scott Gamble (left) and Danny Webb on the final lap of the race.
Doncaster's John Tanner (in the white) leads eventual winner Scott Gamble (left) and Danny Webb on the final lap of the race.
0
Have your say

A TEAM of racing cyclists proved they were the wheel deal after triumphing in one of the world’s most gruelling cycling races.

The Yorkshire-based Strategic Lions pro-am team - which included top Doncaster racers double Olympian John Tanner and Kevin Dawson - tasted victory in the gruelling non-stop Race Across America - an energy-sapping 3,000 mile trek from coast to coast across the United States.

COAST TO COAST: The Strategic Lions team before the start of the Race Across America.

COAST TO COAST: The Strategic Lions team before the start of the Race Across America.

Chris Parkinson, father of Bombadier Ben Parkinson, the paratrooper who was seriously injured in Afghanistan in 2006 was also part of the team taking on the race which the eight-strong outfit led from start to finish in the under 50 open relay category, completing the route from Califonia to Maryland in five days, nine hours and 14 minutes.

And the Lions’ heroic efforts helped raise more than £20,000 for Help for Heroes as they went head to head with 13 other teams of top cyclists from around the globe.

The British boys opened up a lead of just under three hours - 50 miles - over their nearest rivals and they negotiated wind, rain, hailstones, time-zone changes, soaring temperatures and the peaks of the Rocky Mountains along the way.

They might have broken the record but for a 15-minute penalty because their back-up team failed to report going through a checkpoint in time and also paid for a malfunction with their satnav which caused 11-time British best all-rounder Kevin Dawson to get lost.

Orthodontist Damian Bourke, who is based at The Orthodontic Centre in Chequer Road, also took part in the event which passes through 12 states and 88 counties and is now in its 30th year.

The eight riders and 11 support crew, spent the weeks and months leading up to the race undertaking a gruelling training regime with cyclists doing up to 200 miles a week in a bid to prepare for the race - which is 30 per cent longer than the stamina-sapping Tour de France.

The team was assembled and organised by Castleford-based Strategic Team Group and saw cyclists riding for up to eight hours at a time.

The bikers are still accepting donations via www.bmycharity.com/strategiclions

They were scheduled to arrive back in Leeds to a heroes’ welcome on Tuesday.