On Thursday 26 July, the Tirol Cycle Team finally arrived to a euphoric welcome in London, after covering an epic 1300km across Europe. Beginning their journey last Thursday, beneath the Olympic rings at Innsbruck’s Bergisel stadium, the Austrian team set off to raise money for British charity Disability Snowsport UK (DSUK). With donations still being counted and received until Tuesday, the total is expected to reach over £10,000, with £1819 raised in the UK and the majority received through generous donations from Austria, Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium.
Video link to the UK stage of the Tirol Cycle Ride – here http://bit.ly/N78P1p
Having cycled across Europe, arriving on British soil was not without a last-minute panic as the ferry from Ostend to Ramsgate suffered some technical difficulties. Back in the saddle, it quickly became apparent that being behind schedule had instilled a competitive streak within the peloton. After starting off at a faster speed than they had cycled all week, it was the English ladies, who were setting the pace of the day for Olympic gold medalists Stephan Eberharter and David Kreiner.
To connect the Olympic cities of Innsbruck and London in a symbolic gesture, the Tirol Cycle Team was accompanied on the final leg to London by well-known British sport personalities, including Graham Bell, Konrad Bartelski as well as cycling enthusiasts Gordon Ritter and Jon Baud from Crystal Ski, Ski Club of Great Britain, Snow magazine and Planetski. Along the way in Europe, the Tirol Cycle Team was joined by cycling legends, including Rudi Altig in Germany and Eddie Merckx in Belgium.
For the team of 20 cyclists, who had spent the last 8 days on the road, the highlight of the journey was to cross Tower Bridge and arrive for the opening of the Austria House Tirol at Trinity House. Josef Margreiter, CEO Tirol Tourist Board, explains, “Throughout the journey we received overwhelming support and hospitality with people coming out to cheer us on our way. But we received the loudest cheers from the Brits, who gave us a real sporting welcome that might also have something to do with the record-breaking victory in the Tour de France! It was the perfect way to strengthen the sporting connection between the two great Olympic cities”. The last stretch over London’s iconic landmark, Tower Bridge, was even more memorable as they had to wait for the drawbridge to be raised.
The 20 strong Tirol Cycle Team was made up of tourism representatives, sports personalities, business leaders and politicians, including Stephan Eberharter (former Austrian ski racer, Olympic Gold Medal winner and three times World Champion), David Kreiner (Olympic Gold Medal winner in the 2010 Vancouver Games) and Leonhard Stock (former skier and Olympic Gold Medal winner).
The journey from Innsbruck to London is an important link for Tirol in strengthening their position within the Olympic Movement. Innsbruck hosted the inaugural Youth Olympic Games earlier this year and with London hosting the Summer Olympics, they become the first two cities in the world, and in the same year, to host the Olympics for the third time. The Tirol Tourist Board will be present throughout the London Olympics at the official Austria House Tirol, Trinity House.
For more information about the events taking place at Austria House Tirol visit www.thealpsoflondon.tirol.at.