Some of the USA's wounded war veterans had the unique opportunity to ride the last 20 kilometres of the Tour de France’s sixth stagein the city of Lisieux on the Ride 2 Recovery’s Normandy Challenge presented by UnitedHealthcare.
The 10-day adventure was held in conjunction with the Grand Tour from 1-10 July, beginning in Caen and passing through the D-Day battle fields and memorial landsites.
John Wordin, former director of the Mercury Pro Cycling Team, is currently the Executive Director of the Ride 2 Recovery. He founded the Fitness Challenge Foundation in 2003 and partnered with the Military and VA Volunteer Service Office to start the Ride 2 Recovery in 2007. The program is aimed at mental and physical rehabilitation, mainly through cycling activities, for wounded veterans.
Wordin brought on board Wayne Stetina for his expertise in the cycling industry which includes a 23-year term with Shimano and is now the company’s vice president and road product specialist. He was also a 13-time US national champion, a three-time member of the US Olympic Games team and was inducted into the US Bicycle Hall of Fame in 1999.
Stetina joined the Ride 2 Recovery Normandy Challenge last week as a riding instructor and position adjuster for some 130 wounded veterans and troops along with supporters of the program. He also contributed supplies including shoes, wheels and components, as needed.
“The Di2 has been indispensable for amputees, severe arm and hand injuries, and TBI brain injuries by allowing them to shift all gears, which was a totally unanticipated application," he said.
The ride started in Caen and continued through D-Day landmarks and battlefields throughout Normandy. The ride stopped in cities Carentan, Cherbourg, St. Lo along with the city of Lisieux, where they witnessed Team Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen win stage six before heading on to Paris for a total of 284 kilometres.
“The ride has been amazing,” Stetina said. “Incredible roads, scenery, museums and D-Day war memorials everywhere. We just finished the fifth day back to Caen and we had permission from the Tour de France to ride the final 20 kilometres of stage six into Lisieux, just before the stage finished. We also met with teams HTC-Highroad and Radioshack right after stage finished.”
The Ride 2 Recovery’s next set of events includes the Great Lakes Challenge held on 23 August, the 9/11 American Challenge held on 11 September, Golden Gate challenge held on 2 October and the Florida Challenge held on 24 October.