THEY’RE famous for their exploits on the pitch - but for seven rugby legends, they are set to face their toughest test this summer when they take on a gruelling leg of the Tour de France for Joining Jack.
The team has entered L’Etape du Tour on July 7, which enables cyclists to complete one stage of the legendary sporting spectacle just days before the professionals take to it.
One of those pros will be current champion Sir Bradley Wiggins, who joined the riders to announce the challenge and throw his full support behind it.
The 32-year-old has been a strong supporter of the charity due to his affiliation with – and keen support of – Wigan Warriors and has pledged to help the group over the coming months as they prepare for the 130km ride.
The charity was set up by former Warriors star Andy Johnson and wife Alex to raise funds into researching Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) following the devastating diagnosis of five-year-old son Jack in 2011.
Andy will captain the team, which consists of RL legends Denis Betts, Kris Radlinski, Steve Hampson, Paul Sculthorpe, Andy Coley and rugby union player Charlie Hodgson.
And should they struggle along the way, they’ll have some prestigious company in the form of their support riders Sir Chis Hoy and Lady Cath Wiggins.
Gold-medalist Wiggins said: “I am really proud to support Joining Jack and have been to a couple of their other fund-raisers.
“L’Etape du Tour is such a big part of amateur cycling, it felt like a natural way for me to really get behind a fund-raising initiative.
“I think it will be a tough challenge but we’ll be lending lots of support over the next few months and it’s a great way to raise money and awareness for this incredibly important cause.”
The seven-strong Joining Jack Cycle Team – who will all wear jerseys similar to those which were worn by the JJ Dubai rugby 7s side – is participating in the event to raise awareness about DMD, a presently incurable muscle wasting disease.
Andy has paid a heartfelt thank-you to all those taking part in the cycle and those offering their help.
He said: “Since our son Jack was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy in 2011 we have come to realise that very little is known in every sense about this rare and complex condition.
“What we also realised very quickly is that there is no cure and no effective set of treatments. We are determined to change that and established the charity not only to raise awareness but also money to fund vital research.
“We need people to understand how devastating this condition is and without continued research our son and other boys across the world face a bleak future. The support in the UK has been overwhelming and the ongoing contribution from family and friends means that every penny raised will be directed towards finding a cure.
“We need to raise the profile of DMD on an international scale through flagship events such as this and the Dubai Rugby Sevens tournament.”