A HAMPSHIRE marina manager is swapping boats for bikes to help raise £1m for Cure Leukaemia by cycling the route of the Tour de France.

Luke Machin, who works at the Berthon complex in Lymington, is one of 25 riders who will tackle the 3,500m course a week before next year's race.

Fellow riders will include former England and Crystal Palace footballer Geoff Thomas, who survived a brush with leukaemia.

Geoff was diagnosed in 2003 and was given just three months to live, but went into remission after receiving treatment that included a stem cell transplant from his sister Kay.

The cyclists are planning to complete all 21 stages of the Tour de France - one of sport's toughest challenges.

Writing on his JustGiving page Luke, 35, said: "This is a challenge that isn't going to be easy - in fact most people think I'm barking mad.

"I've been a cyclist for just over two years so I'm far from being an expert, but what I lack in experience I make up for in enthusiasm.

"Taking on the world's most iconic bike race route is a once in a lifetime opportunity."

Luke is hoping to raise at least £30,000 for Cure Leukaemia, official partner of the Tour de France in the UK.

"After taking up cycling due to illness, it's great to be able to use the sport I love to raise money for this incredible cause," he said.

"As a team of 25 amateur cyclists, we are committed to raising £1m for the charity that helped save Geoff Thoms's life.

"All funds raised will be invested into the national Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) network, allowing Cure Leukaemia to run clinical trials for pioneering treatments for the disease.

"Patients from an increased catchment area of over 20 million people will have access to potentially life-saving treatments."

Luke told the Daily Echo that was "slightly nervous", adding: "I will be more nervous when I see the mountains I need to climb.

"The Tour 21 is a bike ride like no other, even for a keen cyclist like myself.

"We'll take on the challenge of riding the entire Tour De France course, completing every single foot of elevation up and down various mountains.”

Berthon's managing director, Brian May described the challenge as awe-inspiring.

He added: "We are very proud and supportive of him and any Berthon staff who decide to push themselves to their limit."