Children, parents and teachers have joined together to complete a famous bike race route.

With the Tour de France event – where the world’s best professional cyclists pedal around the country – postponed due to the coronavirus crisis, a group of schools decided to take on the route at home.

BMAT, with primary and secondary schools in Harlow, Epping and Stansted in Essex and Newham in London, launched the Virtual Tour de France for students, teachers and parents.

The trust, which had to cancel its own annual sponsored bike rides from Harlow to Stratford for students, invited its community to cycle the 3,470km route between them.

Phil Dawes, BMAT director of PE and sport, said: “Our students really look forward to taking part in our sponsored bike rides which we have organised for the last four years. To make up for this and to coincide with National Bike Week, we held the Virtual Tour de France and invited as many of the BMAT family as possible to take part.

“Everyone could play a part; on racing bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids, static bikes and even bikes with stabilisers and push-along bikes for the younger members of the Trust.

“As the government eased lockdown and encouraged people to exercise more, particularly outside, it was a great opportunity for families to get out on their bikes and be active.”

Those taking part have recorded the distance of their bike rides, with a daily tally showing where on the route the group had reached.

Noel Lysons, head of art and design technology at BMAT school Burnt Mill Academy in Harlow, is taking part and said: “I've always enjoyed cycling, so when the government said we were only allowed out of the house once a day for exercise, it was the natural choice for me.

“I had already been cycling every day when the BMAT challenge was set and I estimate I have covered 1,000 miles since lockdown began.

“I think the BMAT Virtual Tour de France challenge has inspired a few more people to get out on their bikes, which is great.”

Mr Dawes said: “The main objective of this idea was to keep everyone active during the crisis to maintain physical and mental health, as cycling is known to help those aspects of wellbeing.

“We hope by developing this habitual exercise and activity, our families will continue to cycle through the summer break.”

With the Tour de France route completed by the trust staff and students, new challenges have been set to encourage more children to get involved and complete the distance themselves.