Ben Foster rides Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 to support Wolves' Carl Ikeme
30 Jul 2017, 8:55 a.m.
Premier League star Ben Foster this morning, Sunday 30 July, is riding the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 to raise money for Cure Leukaemia and show his support to a fellow member of the Goalkeepers’ Union.
The football world was stunned when Wolverhampton Wanderers announced earlier this month that their shotstopper Carl Ikeme had been diagnosed with leukaemia.
Foster, West Bromwich Albion’s number one, has been a long-term supporter of Cure Leukaemia and his fundraising efforts have been given that extra motivation by learning of the illness of Ikeme.
“The fact that Carl has been diagnosed with leukaemia shows once again that cancer is not discriminatory,” Foster said. “You could be the strongest, fittest person in the world; you could be a professional athlete. It can get anyone at any time.”
Foster, who has eight caps for England, will join 25,000 other cyclists in setting out from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park this morning on a route that takes riders through central London, out to Surrey and the famous climbs of Leith Hill and Box Hill, before returning to the capital and an iconic finish on The Mall.
The 34-year-old has become something of a cycling fanatic after getting hooked on the sport while undergoing rehabilitation from a serious knee injury.
He now rides three or four times a week and is convinced cycling has helped him find the form of his life.
“Cycling has definitely helped my football,” said Foster. “I have had a lot of injuries in my career and always been a bit top-heavy, meaning my legs have never been the strongest.
“So I have spent quite a lot of time in the gym doing rehab, staring at four walls and thinking ‘there has got to be another way to do this’.
“I ended up getting a road bike about three years ago when I was out with a cruciate knee ligament injury and around that time there was the Geoff Thomas Cure Leukaemia London to Paris ride. I was offered the chance to ride that, got the all clear with the doctors and that is how it all started really.
“I really do love it - sometimes I love it more than football – and I know it has improved my football. The cycling has made my legs so much stronger and I think last season showed that as I think that was one of the best seasons of my career.”
Foster, who has previously played for Manchester United and Birmingham City, is looking forward to his first Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 and is well prepared for some of the tougher undulations he will come across in the Surrey hills.
“I go out on my bike three or four times a week, depending on where I am in the season,” he said. “I have to be careful with how far I go, but the day after a game, on a Sunday, I often meet up with friends and go out for a good 100 kilometres. I live on the doorstep of the Cotswolds and there are hills for fun out there so I am used to it but I’m really looking forward to the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 route.”
Foster has become not only a keen cyclist but a big fan of the sport too and was glued to the Tour de France while out in Hong Kong for West Brom’s pre-season tour.
“I always try to keep tabs on the racing,” he said. “It was brilliant seeing Chris Froome win the Tour and Team Sky riding so well. I also really like the sprinters like Peter Sagan and Marcel Kittel. It was a shame to see them both have to leave the Tour early.
“I know there are some big names racing in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic after my ride in the 100 and it would be nice to see some of those. I might be a bit tired by then though!”
Foster is one of a number of famous faces riding this year’s Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100.
England World Cup-winning rugby union skipper Martin Johnson, double Olympic gold medallist Heather Stanning and pop stars Lemar and Josh Cuthbert are all riding the 100.
Olympic heroes Sir Chris Hoy and Nicola Adams will be among those taking part in the shorter Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 46.
The UCI president Brian Cookson will be the official starter of the 100 with the first wave departing from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at 05:45.
The first riders will be finishing on The Mall at approximately 09:35.
Prudential RideLondon is the world’s greatest festival of cycling running from July 28 to 30. It features seven events from the Youth
Grand Prix and BMX on Friday 28 July, to FreeCycle, the UCI Women’s WorldTour Classique and the Brompton World Championship Final on Saturday 29 July and concluding with the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 and 46 sportives on Sunday 30 July and the UCI WorldTour Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic.
Prudential RideLondon was developed by the Mayor of London, Transport for London and London & Partners in partnership with Surrey County Council and is sponsored by Prudential. The event is managed by the London & Surrey Cycling Partnership.