YORK'S cancer sufferers will benefit from at least one new nurse under an international effort which will see an advance party of cyclists prepare the way for the Tour de France.

Normally, charity bike events are kept off the main course during the big day.

But just hours before the main body of competitors sets off on July 5 a charity team will pedal the route to raise money for the official charity, Marie Curie.

More than a dozen cyclists have been given the once-in-a-life time opportunity to out peddle the superstars of the sport.

They must stay at least two hours ahead during the first leg from Leeds to Harrogate what difficulties the terrain presents.

They include York enthusiast Mike Hughes, 50, who is aiming to raise £19,000 to pay for a new McMillan nurse in York.

The other dozen cyclists from all around the country and abroad will be aiming to raise a similar amount for a nurse in their area under the banner of Michael's Marie Curie Power Peloton.

Mike, a licensed property agent for the York branch of Sidney Phillips, which sells pubs, hotels and restaurants, was inspired to take part by the death of his mother Patricia from cancer aged 81.

He said: “This has never been done before. They have allowed charity rides the day before but never on the same day just ahead of the main body of riders.”

The main difficulty would be maintaining the required two hour lead. “I am totally excited about taking part,” he continued.

“But there is trepidation about having to ride so fast. We have to keep at 15mph to stay ahead. But over steep terrain that speed is going to drop to 7mph.”

The cyclists will be in a Peloton (French for Platoon) and will be setting off at 4.30am aiming to reach Harrogate by 1pm.

For more information go to justgiving.com/mjdhughes.