Ex-England manager Graham Taylor in charity ride

Former England manager Graham Taylor joined 300 other cyclists yesterday on a charity bike ride from London to Paris.

The 66-year-old said he was "confident" he would finish the course, at nearly 300 miles, to help to raise half a million pounds to support the Royal British Legion.

The charity organised its 15th annual Pedal to Paris event in aid of its Battle Back Challenge Centre, a rehabilitation unit for injured servicemen and women which will open in 2012. Speaking ahead of his departure from Greenwich Park in London, Taylor, who aims to raise 5,000 himself, said: "I'm really looking forward to testing myself. I hear it can be pretty gruelling.

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"I'm confident that I will finish the ride - I'm already looking forward to the champagne at the Arc de Triomphe!"

The cyclists are due to finish the course at the Paris landmark on Sunday afternoon after riding down the Champs-Elysees, which will be closed by French police. That honour is usually reserved for the Tour de France.

Taylor has supported the Royal British Legion for many years and said the ride should be "challenging and rewarding".