CHAMPIONSHIP football side Leeds United is joining forces with Ilkley cycle wear brand Fat Lad At The Back (FLAB) to launch an annual sportive, raising money for West Yorkshire communities still recovering from the devastating floods of 2015/16.

Starting on September 17 and contracted as an annual event, the ‘Leeds United Sportive’ will start from the gates of Elland Road and proceed through towns and areas affected by the floods.

The routes, approximately 25, 50 and 75 miles in length, will be limited to just 1,500 entrants for 2017, though the total number of participants is expected to increase in the future. Importantly, £5 of every entry fee will be donated to local flood relief charities.

The sportive will encourage likeminded cyclists and football fans to ride together as part of an ongoing drive to raise money for local charitable causes and get more people living active lifestyles.

Mike Peebles, Head of Retail & Licensing at Leeds United, said: “This is a fantastic way to get involved with our loyal fans off the pitch and to support our local community through raising funds for a really important cause. We’re very excited and look forward to riding with our supporters on 17 September.

“We approached Fat Lad At The Back because we love their ethos of supporting people to enjoy cycling and we already know that a lot of our supporters are customers of FLAB – the fact that they’re a Yorkshire-based business is even better. Leeds United want to encourage people from the stands and onto their bikes.”

Richard Bye, the Ilkley-based co-founder of Fat Lad At The Back, said: “FLAB is a proud Yorkshire business – we’re keenly aware of what hit parts of our county in December 2015 and January 2016. We are delighted to be working with Leeds United, a major sports club with a superb, international fanbase, to raise money for those communities still affected by the impact of that devastating flooding.

“FLAB is a community brand at heart – our cycling gear and sportives are designed for anyone who wants to ride, regardless of shape, size or ability. We will deliver our legendary ethos to the United ride; relaxed, all-inclusive, non-exclusive, anyone, any size, anyhow. Sponsor or participate, and raise money for a very worthwhile cause.”

To further encourage people to participate, Leeds United will be launching a co-branded LUFC cycling jersey that will be stocked in the club shop and available online.

Fat Lad At The Back are experienced at delivering mass participation bike rides. Their own annual “friendliest sportive around”, Up North, takes place in the Yorkshire Dales every May with three distances of 25, 50 and 75 miles. The ethos and organisation will be replicated for the Leeds United sportive, ensuring every rider is fully supported, no-one is left behind, and all participants fed and watered. For more information visit https://fatladattheback.com/sportive/leeds-united-sportive