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Inspirational Invictus Games riders to cycle for wellbeing ahead of Ford RideLondon-Essex challenge

Riders from the Invictus Games Foundation (IGF) are using cycling as a force for change ahead of the 2024 Ford RideLondon-Essex, taking on the challenge to support injured servicemen and women to mark the 10th anniversary of the Games.  

A team of 24 riders from the IGF is taking part in the Ford RideLondon-Essex 100 and 60 events on Sunday 26 May to raise money for, and awareness of, injured servicemen and women.  

The team of male and female riders from Australia, Canada, Denmark, the UK, Colombia, Israel, Italy, Ukraine and the US includes former and current servicemen and women who have been supported by the Foundation.   

The Invictus Games – an international multi-sport event – was first held in London in 2014, for both serving and veteran wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, with the 10th anniversary of the event celebrated last week at St Paul’s Cathedral in central London.  

Taking part in the Ford RideLondon-Essex 100 is Ukrainian injured veteran Yevhen Zhar. “Events organised through the IGF help me to become better physically and to find many friends and acquaintances who have the same injury and are recovering, who are also looking for opportunities to adapt to normal life,” he said.   

“For me, Ford RideLondon-Essex will be an opportunity to be among ‘my’ people, to gain a new experience and to get a morale reset, with the war still ongoing in Ukraine.”  

Fellow serviceman Steve McCulley has not competed at the Invictus Games but has engaged with IGF’s Beyond The Games programme. Steve sustained serious injuries and was lucky to survive when three improvised explosive device (IED) blasts hit him in 2011 while on tour in Afghanistan. After spending three weeks in a coma and undergoing three years of surgery and rehabilitation, he set up LIOS bikes in Lee-on-the-Solent – named after his two children, Lily and Oscar. He is participating in Ford RideLondon to “give me a goal to focus towards and improve my health and wellbeing”.  

Also taking on the 100-mile challenge a week on Sunday is Martha Prinsloo, a member of Team UK at the 2023 Invictus Games, held in Düsseldorf. Partially blinded in one eye while serving as a British Army medic in Afghanistan, the army veteran is now looking forward to taking on her first sportive.  

Martha said: "I’m looking forward to the atmosphere at Ford RideLondon-Essex and being among other athletes doing what we love – sport – participating and encouraging one another. Taking part will help keep me motivated to continue helping others and make a difference where it is needed, proving that having a disability does not restrict you from participating."  

Francisco Pedraza Osorio will be riding using a handcycle. Francisco played a key role in helping bring the first Colombian team and South American team to the Invictus Games and competed last year in Dusseldorf after he was injured in combat while serving with the National Army of Colombia on a hostage rescue mission. He said: “Being a member of Invictus Games community has allowed me to honour my country, Colombia. It’s allowed me to meet other wonderful soldiers of all nations; all of them are heroes. Being a member of the Colombian Invictus is an honour for me.”  

Josh Boggi, Invictus Community Liaison Manager and a triple-amputee who was injured by an IED during the war in Afghanistan, has helped to coordinate the group taking on the 2024 Ford RideLondon-Essex. He said: “The Invictus Games Foundation is dedicated to helping more members of the international service community change their lives through incredible cycling initiatives such as Ford RideLondon-Essex. Cycling is a core sport of the Invictus Games, appearing at all editions of the Games since our debut event of London 2014, ten years ago.   

“IGF Cycling plays a core part in our offering to the We Are Invictus community, which has more than 4,000 members, allowing us to heal more lives through the power of cycling. Ford RideLondon-Essex is one of the best cycling events in the world for members of the We Are Invictus community to utilise as part of their recovery.  

"This year we have sponsored 30 individuals to take part and we will eagerly await the opening of the entries for 2025, as we want to share the incredible event that is Ford RideLondon-Essex with as many members of the We Are Invictus community as we can.”  

Blue Light Cycling Club (BLCC) is another club taking part and is supporting its members and former military riders, like Francisco, Yevhen, Martha and Steve, across the 100-mile route with two feed stations in Fyfield and Norton Heath.  

The stations will provide bike mechanics, as well as food and drinks, to anyone with military or emergency services ID. The BLCC was created in 2021 to help support military communities with mental and physical wellbeing. All BLCC members gain entry to UK cycling events, including Ford RideLondon, with all proceeds going towards supporting their five chosen charities.   
“We are thrilled to be taking on Ford RideLondon-Essex 100 once again this year, which is always one of our most enjoyable days in the saddle in the annual cycling calendar,” said BLCC co-owner Neil Turner. “Being able to champion those who are serving or are retired in our armed forces, as well doing something good for our physical and mental wellbeing, is hugely valuable. We hope to see as many Blue Lighters as possible at our feed and support zones on Sunday 26 May.” 

The riders from the Invictus Games Foundation participating as a team in the 2024 Ford RideLondon are:  

  • Bradley Mazzaferri (AUS)  
  • Martin Stewart (AUS)  
  • Steven McDonald (AUS)  
  • Michael Burt (CAN)  
  • Bubbybirk Storm Norlie Johannsen (DEN)  
  • David Richmond (UK)  
  • James Rogers (UK) 
  • Steve McCulley (UK)  
  • Yevhen Zhar (UKR)  
  • Anna Walker (USA)  
  • Jonny Ball (UK)  
  • Alex Krol (UK)  
  • Yurii Zekun (UKR)  
  • Adam Backhouse (UK)  
  • David Jarvis (UK)  
  • Alexander Westrope (UK)  
  • Jamie Hull (UK)  
  • Paul Fullalove (UK)  
  • Robert Grantham (UK)   
  • Steve Gallagher (UK)  
  • Camilo Andres Castellanos (COL)  
  • Francisco Pedraza (COL)  
  • Martha Prinsloo (UK)  
  • Pavlo Slyzkyi (UKR)  
  • Ariel Mariasch (ISR)  
  • Yosef Polak (ISR)  
  • Carlo Calcagni (ITA)