A RECOVERY centre for wounded, injured and sick veterans is set to benefit from the ambitious fundraising effort of a man who aims to cycle the entire Tour de France route.

Steve Saddington, 56, will set off on his three-week challenge on July 19 from Leeds, taking in the Grand Depart sections before heading to the continent to take on the Alps and Pyrenees in a bid to raise cash for Phoenix House recovery centre in Catterick Garrison.

Mr Saddington, from Ovington, near Barnard Castle, has not had to use the centre himself, but said as he has a daughter and son-in-law in the armed forces he understands how vital the services provided by Phoenix House are.

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He said: “The idea came from my friend, Russell Collins, who has been cycling for a number of years and because last year was the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France we thought about doing it then.

“However, it didn’t work out – but this year we were determined so we have been doing lots of training and working out how to get enough protein and calories into us along the way.

“We now have around 3,000 miles of training under our belts so I think we feel in good form to take on the challenge.”

Mr Saddington said they are hoping to raise at least £1 per mile of the 2,272 mile trip, which they aim to complete in 21 days – staying 14 days behind the professionals and averaging 108 miles a day – giving themselves more hours in the saddle than the racers.

The longest day will be 145 miles and their biggest climb will be 55.6km in the Alps.

Mr Collins plans to raise his cash for Cancer Research UK, and has already raised more than £2,000 on his Just Giving page.

Mr Saddington said: “I want to raise money and awareness for Phoenix House.

“My daughter Melanie Vernon and her husband Richard are staff sergeants in the Royal Signals, and both have served in Iraq and Afghanistan among other places.

“I also have a friend who volunteers at Phoenix House, and listening to the inspirational stories that come out of there I don’t want them to be forgotten or cast aside.

“The work Phoenix House does is incredibly important.”

Mr Saddington thanked Tesco at Catterick Garrison for donating boxes of food for the trip.

To support Mr Saddington and Mr Collins visit their Just Giving page at http://www.justgiving.com/teams/TeesdaleTourdeFrance