Thomas, who was recognised in the Queens' Birthday Honours for his charity work, will lead a team of cyclists tackling the Tour de France route as part of Tour 21, a challenge he has completed three times before.
“I’ll be sat on my bike for three weeks around France – sounds nice doesn’t it?” he told Palace TV. “But it’s horrendous. There’s a day on a mountain Mont Ventoux, and this year we’re going up both sides in one day.
“It’s a long day anyway, but it’s steep – and at the top, nothing lives there: it’s like the moon. It’s just rocks. So it’s going to be a tough climb. Doing it not just once, but twice, will be difficult.”
But the suffering will be worth it in order to support Cure Leukaemia, who, like many charities, have suffered at the hands of COVID.
“Like lots of organisations, it has left a big hole: about £1 million last year” says Thomas. “We’d set a figure of £1 million for us to raise, and we’re getting close to £800,000 now. So if we can get to £1.5 million we’ll go some way to filling that gap as well.
The money raised goes a long way to battling leukaemia through scientific advances up and down the country.
“We’re funding national trials,” Thomas explains. “Cure Leukaemia has a hub in central Birmingham and all the information is there, but all the data is collected from trusts and hospitals around the country.
“In the past, people in Manchester would be doing something and people in London would be doing their own thing. But we’ve built an infrastructure where they might be working on their own projects, but together. It’s accelerating all the science to benefit patients.
“As soon as we put a trial on, it’s delivering hope to patients. They’re surviving because of these trials.”
Mark Bright, Thomas’ former teammate, expressed his admiration for the work he has continued to do to combat leukaemia through the Cure Leukaemia charity.
“I think I speak for everybody connected with Crystal Palace Football Club: we’re all proud of him,” he says. “I’m so pleased for him [to receive an MBE in the Queens’ Birthday Honours]. He’ll be unbearable! No, he’s not like that is he – but I think he’ll like writing it after his signature.
“I’m so pleased for him for everything he has achieved, and everything he continues to achieve. Raising money for leukaemia, his charity, putting himself through this challenge which is so demanding on his body.
“He’s heading towards the £1 million mark. I can’t praise him enough. We did London to Paris together in 2015, which was 300km in three days. That was quite tough, so I can’t imagine what it’s like doing the Tour.”