Ex-Whitbread Round the World sailor and Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon will be officially starting the Blue Marine Foundation's London to Monaco Bike Ride on 18 September.

Pop legend, Simon Le Bon will blow the starting horn as more than 50 riders take part in the Blue Marine Foundation’s (BLUE) London to Monaco Bike Ride.

The event will officially start at 8am on 18 September at the Tower of London. All spectators are being asked to gather by 7.15am to watch the beginning of the cycling challenge.

The riders will be greeted at the finish line in Monaco by HSH Prince Albert II.

London to Monaco cyclists

Cyclists training ahead of the start on 18 September. Credit: La Fuga

Those taking part in the event will be raising money for BLUE, which works towards protecting vast tracts of the world’s oceans.

BLUE exists to combat overfishing and the destruction of biodiversity – arguably the largest problem facing the world’s oceans – by creating large-scale marine reserves and developing models of sustainable fishing.

Le Bon, who took part in the 1985-86 Whitbread Round the World Race on board Drum, explained why he is so passionate about supporting BLUE and the bike challenge.

“The sea is a beautiful thing. I think we all grew up thinking it was perfect and untouchable and would always exist, but we know that there’s a disaster unfolding,” said the lead singer of Duran Duran.

“Overfishing has caused a terrible crisis. Now is the time to do something. The London to Monaco Bike Challenge will not only raise much-needed funds for BLUE’s conservation work, it’ll also raise awareness of the crisis our oceans are facing,” added Le Bon, who is an ambassador for the charity.

Funds raised from the ride will go towards two specific projects.

The first, in the Aeolian Islands north of Sicily, will address overfishing and irresponsible tourism, and protect endangered marine species such as sperm whales and dolphins.

The second is in the remote island of Ascension in the tropical Atlantic – home to extraordinary biodiversity including sharks, turtles and rare sea birds.

Sooty Tern on Ascension Island

Sooty terns breeding on Ascension Island. Credit: Drew Avery

Half of Ascension’s waters were closed to industrial fishing at the beginning of the year, but the Ascension islanders need to develop other sources of income on the island, particularly science and eco-tourism.

BLUE’s project will assist both the islanders and ensure that the waters around Ascension can become a haven for the marine life to be found there.

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco is the founding patron of the Blue Marine Yacht Club, which was formed to unite the world’s yachting community in a clear mission to protect oceans.

“Oceans are more than ever at the heart of our common future. Although they are subjected to sustained pressures, they also offer infinite solutions and unparalleled opportunities, whether of an ecological or economic nature, energy or food related,” explained Prince Albert II.

“Since 2012, my foundation and the Blue Marine Foundation have made an important unified commitment to help protect the world’s oceans, with a number of joint initiatives focused on the protection and management of the marine environment,” he continued.

“The first London to Monaco Cycle Ride is therefore a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness on the necessity to protect our fragile oceans,” stressed Prince Albert II.

Manta Ray

The graceful Manta Ray. Credit: Rory Moore

Starting from the historic Tower of London and riding across Tower Bridge on 18 September, the riders will complete an impressive 1,500 kilometre cycle ride over ten days.

They will arrive in Monaco on 27 September.

The challenge will see them ride through three countries and over terrain that ranges from the gently rolling hills of Kent to the leg-burningly steep and picturesque Rhone-Alps in South Eastern France.

Participants are able to join one of the four chapters or tackle the whole distance.

Chapter 1, London to Folkestone – The opening stage of the ten day cycle ride will lead riders away from the beating heart of London through rolling Kent countryside and into Folkestone.

Chapter 2, St Omer to Dijon – As the riders travel into France there will be warmer weather and the chance to test their endurance as this leg includes the longest stage of the entire ride – the 223km between St Quentin and Troyes, finishing in the Burgundy town of Dijon.

Chapter 3, Dijon to Gap – The riders remain at around 1000m of altitude until the last 5km, where they descend gently into Gap. Gap is the largest town in the Hautes-Alpes and synonymous with cycling, having hosted the Tour de France on 21 occasions.

Chapter 4, Gap to Monaco – The final stage of the ride will cut across the mountains, jutting out into the Mediterranean. The riders will navigate their way into Monaco and up onto The Rock of Monaco, home to the Prince’s Palace, while all around the town will be preparing for the annual Monaco Yacht Show.

The challenge has been arranged in partnership with Winch Design, the award winning British superyacht design studio.

Winch Design has a long-standing relationship with BLUE, and has supported the charity through smaller initiatives in the past – including the design of the “Whale Room” at the Ice Hotel in 2012.

The founder of the company, Andrew Winch, commented: “I’m passionate about the oceans and know that we must ensure the future of our seas. As a great supporter of Blue Marine Foundation, I wanted to make a real contribution to their wonderful work in celebration of our thirtieth year in business.”

“The entire team at Winch design is inspired to do their bit to help and I hope people within our industry will get behind this event to show their support for BLUE and do their bit for the environment,” he added.

The cyclists will be escorted by a large support team, managed by La Fuga.

Those wanting to wave off the riders on Sunday are being asked to assemble by 7.15am at the East Tower of Tower Bridge.