Inspirational Burnley businessman presented with prestigious yellow jersey after smashing the Tour de France to raise £12,000 for charity

Rik with the yellow jersey
Rik with the yellow jersey

The prestigious yellow jersey similar to the one presented to the winner of the world famous Tour de France has been awarded to an inspirational Burnley businessman.

Rik Clough was proud and thrilled to be presented with the jersey after he took part in the first stage of the Tour de France a week before the professionals in aid of Prostate Cancer.

Rik and Nick at the end of their challenge

Rik and Nick at the end of their challenge

He was one of 235 people taking part in the challenge and Rik was chosen for the accolade as he was the top individual fund raiser, bringing in the staggering total of £10,044 for the charity.

Rik, who is 53 and owns his own business, Continuous Improvement Solutions Ltd, said: "I was honoured to receive the jersey.

"This is something I have always wanted to do so to complete it for a good cause at the same time was just fantastic."

The experience was even more poignant as Rik has himself battled and overcome prostate cancer which was what inspired him to take on the challenge.

Rik was joined on the Grand Departe Classic in Brussels by lifelong friend Nick Emmott and between them took the total fundraising in excess of £12000.Although both are keen and experienced cyclists, the 124 mile route with parts climbing of 7,000 feet proved to be the ultimate test of their physical stamina.

Particularly tough were the Muur van Geraardsbergen which is 1,000 metres long with a maximum gradient of 19.8% and the 900 metre long Bosberg with a maximum gradient of 11%. And both had cobble stones which are not very cycle friendly!

But the hills are an integral part of the race and the experience for Rik and Nick who spectate every year.

For them to get the opportunity to cycle the route the week before the professional competitors was a unique opportunity not to be missed.

Rik said: "When we set off at 7am it was already 18 degrees and it got up to 45 during the day.

"Apart from a couple of water stops we just kept going, you had no choice going up the hills."

Along with raising as much money as possible for the charity, Rik aims to raise as much awareness as possible of the disease.

One man in eight are diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their their life and Rik, who also works at Barnoldswick's Rolls Royce, believes a big factor is lack of awareness.

Rik sought medical help when he experienced the first symptoms of the illness which was blood in his urine.

As soon as he was diagnosed he underwent an operation to remove his prostate along with two follow up operations to deal with the effects of the illness.

Rik lives with his wife Karen and the couple have two children, Jake (26) and 24-year-old Laura.

In April Karen organised a Peaky Blinders themed night at Burnley Mechanics which helped to boost Rik's fund by £4000.

Rik is happy to speak about his diagnosis and what he went through in a bid to help more men feel encouraged to talk more openly about themselves.

He said: "Men often struggle to talk about how they feel and any illnesses they may have but I think it is very important to help you come to terms with what you may have gone through."

And although cancer free, Rik is still on the road to recovery and extremely grateful to Mr Mohan Pillai and Mr Mohammed Maasarane, the consultant urological surgeons, who treated him.

Rik is already planning his next challenge for 2020 when he again takes part in the Tour de France Grand Departe Classic, this time in Nice, cycling a 105 mile long course which also involves 10,000 feet of climbing too.

Next year Rik’s fundraising will be taking a twist with businesses being able to provide sponsorship in exchange for advertising on his jersey. If your business would like to donate please contact rikclough@gmail.com

Both Rik and Nick would like to thank all who donated throughout and helped to organise the Peaky Blinders night

There is still time to make a donation to Rik's fund by going to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/RikClough.