Cyclists and wounded heroes gear up for epic

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A team of Yorkshire cyclists are saddling up alongside wounded war heroes to take on one of the world’s most gruelling endurance challenges.

The eight-strong Strategic Lions team, from South Yorkshire, and an ex-British Army Battle Back team will each be cycling on rotation for more than five days non-stop in the 3,000-mile Race Across America later this month as they seek to raise money for veterans charity Help for Heroes.

The Yorkshire cyclists emerged victorious from last year’s coast-to-coast challenge, beating an elite US military team – but after five days and five hours on the road missed out on setting a new record time by just 15 minutes.

As they look to break the record this time around, they will also be following the progress of the wounded and injured British servicemen who they have been mentoring for the past nine months. The Battle Back team consists of four double amputees riding hand-bikes and four other injured servicemen on upright machines, and are taking on the challenge for the first time.

Members of the Strategic Lions travelled down to Westminster yesterday to receive a send-off from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. “It’s gob-smacking what these guys are doing,” the Sheffield MP said. “I can only wish them all the best.”

Team member Andy Watson, from Ackworth in West Yorkshire, said: “Our time spent mentoring the soldiers has been an absolute privilege. We are delighted to have played just a small part in helping them prepare for the race.”