An Ashford man has cycled around Mont Blanc in one day to raise £12,000 for North Devon Hospice.

Rob Wakefield takes a well deserved reward at the end of cycling 330km around Mont Blanc. Picture: Rob WakefieldRob Wakefield takes a well deserved reward at the end of cycling 330km around Mont Blanc. Picture: Rob Wakefield

Rob Wakefield, aged 48, took on the 330 kilometre Tour de Mont Blanc in a single day, with 9,240 metres of climbing on 11 mountain passes, all at high altitude and temperatures of up to 35 degrees Celsius.

He said the challenge led to 'a new level of suffering' but not only did he complete it, he placed 122nd out of the 738 cyclists who took to the start line.

Mr Wakefield's motivation was in memory of his farther-in-law David Beanland.

He said: "During his lifetime, David walked the entire length of the Alps, often solo and Mont Blanc has played a big part in my life too, so this challenge felt like the right thing to do in order to honour David's memory."

The ride began at 5am in the French ski resort of Les Saisies, where the route took the cyclists through mountain passes into Italy and Switzerland, before finishing back at the start some 16 hours later.

Mr Wakefield added: "Having first tackled its slopes as a skier, I attempted to climb Mont Blanc with my brother back in 2011, but we were thwarted by the weather.

"So if I was unable to climb the mountain, I was determined to cycle around it, to raise as much money as possible for the hospice, which is where David spent his final days."

He calculated that he spent 500 hours training over eight months, adding up to 12,000kms in total, matching his £12,000 raised to the hospice.

He continued: "Suffice to say, no amount of training makes the last five hours of a race like this easy."

"I had two occasions where I involuntarily burst into tears. Not through pain or doubt, but from an overwhelming sense of how much further I was pushing myself, into new levels of suffering."

North Devon Hospice cares for more than 2,600 patients and families every year, but that is not possible without the support of fundraisers and donations.

Stephen Roberts, hospice chief executive, said: "This is simply an incredible feat. Not only has Rob completed one of the toughest days on a bike you could imagine, he has raised an amazing sum for the hospice."