Datchworth resident completes Tour de France for charity

“A BRUTAL and highly emotional experience that tested us all to the very limit.” These are the words of Datchworth resident Mark Pittaccio after he successfully completed all 20 stages of the Tour de France.

A keen cyclist, Mark joined 13 other riders for the three-week challenge, which raised more than �350,000 for the William Wates Memorial Trust, a charity which helps disadvantaged children through sports, arts and education projects.

The 47-year-old, who is the head coach of Datchworth Rugby Club, took to the saddle on June 19, two weeks before the world’s finest cyclists started ‘Le Tour’ in Rotterdam on July 3.

And on July 10, more than 3,600 km later, a shattered Mark rode down the Champs-Elysees in Paris to a rapturous welcome from friends and supporters.

The Tour de France proper finishes later today.

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Mark, a dad-of-two, described the ride as “relentless”.

“It reached the point where we genuinely didn’t know what day of the week it was,” he said.

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“All we had to know is what time we needed to leave and what time we had to be at the last summit to avoid descending in the dark.

“Humour and teamwork were absolutely essential for survival.”

Mark, who is better known as Pitsi, revealed that his bid to complete the challenge was almost derailed following a bout of tendonitis following stage 13.

“The leg had blown up pretty badly,” he said.

“It looked as if I was going home and it was a very difficult time.”

Yet there were highs as well as lows.

Mark, of Datchworth Green, smiled: “We suffered but we suffered in paradise as the Alps and the Pyrenees offered surroundings of breathtaking beauty when we had little breath left to take.”

For the last three stages of the Tour, Mark was joined by six rugby colleagues, who helped raise a combined �20,000 for the William Wates Memorial Trust.

For more information about the charity, click on the link, right.

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