How do you solve a century-long argument between football fans and rugby followers about which sport is best?

Easy. Hold a bike race.

And that’s what the next Revolution meeting at Manchester Velodrome on February 23 will do.

Ex-England soccer international Geoff Thomas and England’s Rugby World Cup winner Martin Johnson will go head-to-head in the Geoff Thomas Pursuit Challenge.

Thomas has the cycling experience ? having twice ridden the full Tour de France route to raise money for leukaemia charities. Thomas, who also played for Crystal Palace and Wolves, was diagnosed with the disease and was inspired by Lance Armstrong’s fight against cancer that he took up cycling during his recovery.

THE ITALIAN PURSUIT

The event will see Johnson swapping the rugby jersey for Lycra as he takes to the track in a feature Italian Pursuit race.

The Italian Pursuit is a slightly different format to the normal team pursuit seen in the Olympics.

It’s a cross between the pursuit and the team sprint, featuring six-man teams

Johnson will lead a team of six riders who will set off at the opposite side of the track to Thomas?s team of six. Johnson and Thomas will set the pace racing the first lap when they will peel off after an intense 250m effort. Each subsequent rider will lead the team for one lap until there is only one rider left on each squad who will sprint it out for the line and glory on the final lap.

The two teams will be evenly balanced with Olympic Kilo champion Chris Hoy and Kilo world record holder Arnaud Tournant set to be the final man on each squad.

The race has been developed in conjunction with the Revolution event to help raise awareness and funds for the Geoff Thomas Foundation. The foundation was set up by ex England footballer Geoff Thomas to help provide the resources to develop new medical treatments in the fight against leukaemia.

Central to Thomas’ fundraising efforts have been two attempts to ride the full Tour de France route. The association with the Revolution event will now help increase awareness of the foundation to the Revolution audience and Martin Johnson?s involvement will help spread exposure beyond the cycling community.

Thomas said: “I am delighted to be involved in the Revolution series and am sure the partnership we have will help generate the awareness of the Foundation and help support the five top Leukaemia centres around the country, one of which is in Manchester. My interest in cycling as a sport has obviously increased over the past few years and Revolution is a great way to get everyone involved. I am really grateful to Martin for giving up his time to support us, and I?m sure we?ll have a great night whatever the result of the race!?”

Both Thomas and Johnson are now planning their preparation with training sessions scheduled at the Newport Velodrome to prepare for the race.

The Revolution event will take place at the Manchester Velodrome on 23rd February. Tickets can be bought at cyclingrevolution.com or by calling 0845 686 0105. For more information on the Geoff Thomas Foundation please go to Geoff Thomas Foundation

PICTURE: Geoff Thomas, out on the roads near his Midlands home, when he was training for his charity Tour de France ride. By Andy Jones

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