Sunderland AFC’s French stars have backed a gruelling cycling challenge which will see a Black Cats legend lead a team through their homeland this summer.
Former Sunderland striker Marco Gabbiadini is to be in charge of a team of up to 50 cyclists who will take part in the Atlantic to Mediterranean Challenge.
Funds will be raised from the challenge for Foundation of Light, the club’s registered charity.
It will begin on June 4, in French seaside town Arcachon, before ending four days – and 320 miles – later in Gruissan.
French Black Cats duo Younes Kaboul and Yann M’Vila believe the charity has made the perfect choice in selecting France for this year’s challenge.
Midfielder M’Vila said: “I don’t think Foundation of Light could have chosen a better country for the 2016 ride.
France is very beautiful, especially in the summer, and the cyclists will enjoy some amazing scenery as they pass through its countryside and vineyardsYann M’Vila
“France is very beautiful, especially in the summer, and the cyclists will enjoy some amazing scenery as they pass through its countryside and vineyards.”
Kaboul – who attended the Foundation’s Top Scorer Awards and met some of those who have benefitted from the charity’s work – added: “The Foundation’s work is vital to the North East, and those taking part in the challenge will help make a real difference to local lives.
“From what I’ve heard about the challenge, there’s a great team atmosphere, and I’m sure everyone will be in high spirits, encouraging their team-mates throughout and sharing in each other’s success.”
Gabbiadini, who scored over 80 goals during his four years with the Black Cats, said: “The Cycle Challenge has really grown over the last few years, and has become one of biggest fundraising events in the Foundation’s calendar.
“There’s a massive sense of achievement from taking part in the cycle challenges, made all the better from taking part as a team.
“The routes are always a fantastic mix of challenging climbs and beautiful scenery, and our strong camaraderie gets us through.
“I can’t wait for this summer’s event, and am calling on everyone who feels they are up for the challenge to join us.”
Places on the challenge are limited, with 50 riders expected to take it on.
Donations can also be made at justgiving.com/MarcoGabbiadini10 and on Twitter using the hashtag #TeamFoundation.
Previous Cycle Challenges have seen riders travel over 1,000 miles from Dublin to Sunderland and across Italy, raising more than £100,000 to help fund Foundation of Light’s community projects across the North East.
Those interested in the challenge can call Jemma Garrett on 0191 5515191 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.