AN INTREPID fundraiser from Swindon has completed a cycle ride of more than 900 miles between London and Monte Carlo – and helped to raise £18,000.

Max Harrison-Tosatto, 21, and his friends overcame punctures, sore legs and wrong turns, which saw them escorted off motorways by the French police.

The group of 20-somethings, who were raising money for Cancer Research, also had to muster extra strength through the mountains in the south of France.

Max, a business studies student at Plymouth University, was on a placement with IBM in Feltham when he and colleagues hit on the idea after discovering they had all been touched by cancer.

At one point Max, who took part in memory of his grandfather, had to catch the group up with a 20-mile burst of speed after a nail in his tyre was followed by a split inner tube and a puncture.

The team reached Monte Carlo on May 18 and had to negotiate with the police to take pictures in a square that was on security lock-down for the Grand Prix.

Max said: “It felt really good to complete the ride, especially with the amount we raised, which was £18,000. We think we can still reach £20,000. To raise so much money for a good cause is just brilliant.”

Cycling past the Ferraris and yachts when they reached their destination was one of the highlights of the trip.

“When we got to Monte Carlo we cycled through the start line for the Grand Prix,” said Max.

“We were cycling along and we met a local cyclist who said he would show us the way and thankfully took us straight to where we were going. It was a brilliant way to finish the journey.”

Max, whose dad Eric died of lung cancer, still returns home at weekends to play for Shrivenham FC.

His mum Julie said said she was extremely proud of her son.

“He’s never done any serious cycling before and it’s probably up there as a lifetime achievement,” she said.

“It was an incredible bonding experience for all of them. They did everything off their own backs, from generating funds to every little bit of logistics for the ride.

“Even though they had a couple of setbacks, their spirits stayed high. It’s a mammoth achievement, both on a personal level and for Cancer Research.”

The team set off on May 10 from Westminster Bridge in London. Once in Monte Carlo, they had to get permission to pose for pictures to mark their eight-day journey.

Julie said: “It took quite a lot of negotiating with the Monegasque police and the Société des Bains de Mers, who are in charge of the area around the casino, to get permission for the boys to ride onto the square in front of the casino.

“They were already preparing for the Monte Carlo Grand Prix and security was much tighter than usual.”

Max has kept fit playing football, having turned out for Croft Juniors and then Shrivenham FC.

The former Kingsdown and New College student, of Stratton, has also run in the Swindon Half Marathon.

In their blog post, the group wrote: “We’ve completed the hardest challenge and biggest achievement of our lives. All for a superb cause and one that deserves all the efforts we put in.”

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