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Monaco resident Mika Häkkinen, the former Formula One World Champion, is to cycle 322 kilometres from Tuscany to Monaco to raise funds for Caudwell Children, the UK charity that provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families.
Häkkinen, 48, nicknamed “The Flying Finn” for his speed around the track, has agreed to participate in the Tuscany to Monaco Cycle Challenge after meeting John Caudwell, the entrepreneur, philanthropist and Founder of Caudwell Children.
“I’ve been privileged to meet and get to know John,” explained Häkkinen, “His vision and passion for the charity has truly inspired me, and I felt compelled to get involved.”
When he learned that Modesta Vzesniauskaite, the former Lithuanian Olympic cyclist, had organised the three-day Cycle Challenge, which starts September 22, to raise funds for the charity he jumped at the chance of registering for the event.
“I’ve been cycling since I was a young boy,” said Häkkinen, the 1998 and 1999 World Champion. “If I remember correctly my first bike was a Tunturi bike, a Finnish brand. It had no shifts and only had pedal breaks. I was so proud.”
Häkkinen has a number of bikes to choose from but he’s hoping his Giant will get him over the line in Monaco, despite his longest ride to date being an 140 km cycle from St Tropez to the Principality. As he explained: “I’ve done this ride a few times now for Her Highness Princess Charlene, and it’s a beautiful ride, as I’m sure the Tuscany to Monaco ride will be.
Häkkinen, says that cycling is not only a great outdoor exercise but is also a great way to socialise. “I like to ride with friends and it gives me a great chance to chat and catch up. “It’s only since I finished my career that I’ve really started to appreciate the social aspect of it.”
Money raised by Häkkinen, and a team of fellow cyclist, will allow Caudwell Children to continue providing hospital and in-home family support, mobility and sensory equipment, and access to specialist sports equipment. Funds will also assist fully supported family holidays for children with life-threatening conditions and activity days and life-changing therapies and treatments.
Although he’s not cycling as much as he would like, Häkkinen says the challenge will be part of his fitness regime. “The Tuscany to Monaco ride will push me to get on my bike and practice a bit more. But for me it goes way beyond fitness, it includes other things like sleep and nutrition as well.”
Day one of the event, on Friday, September 22, will see cyclists riding over 117 km through the beautiful rolling Tuscan countryside from San Gimignano to Forte dei Marmi.
On the second day, participants will be in the saddle for 137 km miles as they are pushed to their limits on the undulating roads to the lovely town of Rapallo.
On their final day of their challenge, on Sunday, September 24, the cyclists will encounter some strong coastal winds as they head towards the finish line in Monaco.
“I’m very proud to support Caudwell Children, it’s a great charity, and I can’t wait to get started on this extremely worthwhile challenge.”
Donations can be made through Mika Häkkinen’s Just Giving Page or join Mika Häkkinen, fellow riders and guests at their celebration Ocean Gala Dinner (tickets from €500) on September 24 at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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