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Cyclists prepare for Pamplona to Gibraltar challenge

From left to right: Jimmy Alcantara, Peter Ignacio, Tony Yusifredo and Ian Howes

On May 12, six cyclists from Gibraltar will start a journey of 1,160kms from Pamplona to Gibraltar.

The challenge is to raise both funds and awareness for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Gibraltar and Prostate Cancer Gibraltar.

The cyclists will leave from outside the Hospital Clinica Universitaria de Navarra, a hospital in which, for many years, Gibraltarians have received cancer treatment.

The group comprise of Jimmy Alcantara, Ian Howes, Tony Yusifredo, Peter Ignacio, Brian Finlayson and Glen Ballantine who have known each other since their school days when they were about five or six.

It is not the first time any of them have undertaken such a challenge. Most recently, some members have cycled from Lisbon to Gibraltar and, previously, some have cycled from London to Gibraltar or from Santiago to Gibraltar.

An entourage will depart Gibraltar on May 10, driving up to Pamplona with the bicycles and, two days later, they will leave for the planned nine day challenge.

On average, they will do between 130-150km at day.

“Depends on the terrain,” said Mr Alcantara.

“On one day, one of the longest, right, is all flat.”

“But apparently that's one of the worst ones because it's really dry. The sun is hitting you, there's no trees, there's nothing. So if you've got the wind against you, it would be tough.”

“Then there will be a couple of days where we have got really steep climbs. I think, one day, we have got about 1700 meters to climb over 160 kilometres [of road], that's one of the longest days.”

“The lightest is the first day which is also going to be the longest, I think it's 169 kilometres on the first day. We have got a big climb when we get to Ronda which is on the Friday.”

They will spend the night in Jimena before they complete the last leg of the journey to arrive in Gibraltar at approximately 12.30 on Saturday May 20.

They are encouraging any cyclists to wish to join them on this leg to do so by meeting them along the way or on the green lane.

While Mr Alcantara said the money is welcome, exposure for the charities is also a focus, gGetting more people aware of the symptoms of the two cancers and to seek medical attention should they have them.

In addition, in the case of prostate cancer, to have a blood test done to check their PSA [prostate specific antigen] levels. Since a new system of checking PSA levels was introduced last November, over 600 men have taken up the test. One of those men was Mr Alcantara, who was given the all clear.

“I am delighted that Jimmy and his team of cyclists have decided to take on this challenge, which will not only provide funding, but will also give a massive boost to awareness, which is extremely important,” said Derek Ghio from Prostate Cancer Gibraltar.

“There are men that do not recognise the symptoms associated with prostate cancer and all this helps in that direction.”

Louis Baldachino from Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Gibraltar said he was very grateful to the cyclists for taking on the challenge. And that the challenge was starting in a hospital where patients with the cancer are treated.

He touched on the fact that the symptoms for the cancer are similar to symptoms for other ailments and often get overlooked. As a result, pancreatic cancer is the fastest killing cancer of all the common cancers.

“In the past six years, 47 have passed away. And, if I'm correct, in the past six years, only two survivors, that includes myself,” he said.

“Which shows how now how deadly and how fast it actually kills.”

Mr Ghio noted “what needs to be said is, with all cancers, the sooner you diagnose the cancer, the more chances of survival that you have.”

“And this is a case with prostate cancer. If you're diagnosed early, you have a 99.9% survival rate.”

“The problem is when the cancer exits the prostate, and that is when it spreads, it can go to other parts of the body. And then it's more difficult to treat.”

The three men touched on the fact that men are often less likely to go to the doctor than women. However they all felt that, more recently thanks for various campaigns, this is shifting.

While prostate cancer affects men, pancreatic cancer affects more men than women by about 10%.

The committees on both charities are constantly working hard to spread the message of awareness and help, with Prostate Cancer Gibraltar bringing onboard a female member to help support the women in the lives of men affected with the disease.

The cyclists have also had support from some local companies, including Holland and Barrett supporting them with gels and hydration drinks.

For more information on the Gibraltar Prostate Support Group go to

For more information on Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Gibraltar go to

To donate go to

All donations will be divided equally between the two charities.

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