Classical singer Laura Wright joins Mayor of London in launching 16th edition, and will ride in event

Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who last week lined up in front of the cameras alongside model Kelly Brook to launch this year’s London Sky Ride, has been joined at another bike-related photocall outside City Hall by classical singer Laura Wright. This time, it was to launch Pedal to Paris 2011, organised by The Royal British Legion’s to support what it terms “the Afghanistan generation of the Armed Forces.”

The 21-year-old singer, who released her debut album The Last Rose earlier this year, will be one of more than 300 cyclists, many of them current and former armed forces personnel, who will set off from Greenwich Park on Thursday 1 September, arriving in Paris on Sunday after riding 285 miles.

The Royal British Legion aims to raise £500,000 through the ride, which will go towards its new £30 million Battle Back Centre, which is due to open this month and which aims to help wounded or sick armed forces personnel recover with the help of adaptive sports, among other things, and enter civilian life.

Helping to launch the 16th edition of the ride, Mr Johnson said: “The Royal British Legion does amazing work to support the brave men and women who have served in our Armed Forces, and their families and loved ones. As these intrepid cyclists set off to Paris I urge everyone to dig deep to support this great cause."

Ms Wright added: “I was a Corporal in the Combined Cadet Force when I was younger, and have always known about the Legion’s great work for our Service people. When I heard about the Battle Back Centre, I really wanted to support the project through Pedal to Paris. The ride itself is going to be a huge challenge, and I’ll be very happy when I see the Arc de Triomphe!”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.