TENS of thousands of cyclists streamed across the South Downs this weekend as they took on a 54-mile charity cycle challenge.

Click here for a gallery of pictures from the event.

Now in its 39th year, The London to Brighton Bike Ride is the oldest and largest charity ride in Europe – having raised £60 million in its history.

The course sees cyclists peddle their way from Clapham Common in London to the finish line on Brighton seafront.

Marshals helped direct traffic for the first time this year with fewer police involved but one man was in a life-threatening condition last night after colliding with a telegraph pole.

The ride is run in aid of the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to raise funds for the charity’s work in fighting coronary heart disease.

Cyclists including Masterchef’s John Torode, Team GB’s Olympic rowing champions Mark Hunter and Tom James, and TV presenter Aggie Mackenzie climbed onto their bikes alongside 28,000 others as they made their way across the south-east.

Tristam Jones, head of events at the BHF thanked cyclists and their sponsors.

He said: “Every penny they raise helps us fund pioneering research that supports heart patients and their families in their fight for every heartbeat.

“We would also like to thank everyone who came to help at both the start in Clapham and the finish in Brighton. Our cyclists rely on the hundreds of volunteers who give their time to make the Bike Ride possible.”

Among the riders was Jess Reed, 27, who lost her father suddenly to a heart attack in November last year.

She said: “Taking part in this event was a real challenge and an incredible experience. The atmosphere on the day was brilliant and I am proud to have been part of this amazing day. “Knowing I was cycling for such a great cause made me determined to succeed.”

Next year the ride celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Cyclists hurt during ride

TWO cyclists were left hospitalised, one of them with life-threatening injuries, following crashes on the London to Brighton bike ride.

A man aged in his 30s from London hit a telegraph pole in Rocky Lane, Gatton, Surrey and was left in a life-threatening condition.

He was taken by ambulance to St George’s Hospital in Tooting where another cyclist was also being treated.

The female cyclist, also aged in her 30s, had to be airlifted to the hospital following a collision in Rookery Hill, Outwood.

She suffered injuries to her head and eye but her condition was described as stable.

Louise Parkes, director of fundraising at the British Heart Foundation (BHF) said: “We are saddened to hear that two cyclists have been injured while taking part in today’s ride. An investigation will be carried out in conjunction with the police, ride managers and other agencies.”

She added: “Our thoughts are with those involved and their families.”

Anyone with information about the collisions is asked to call the Surrey Police Collision Investigation Unit on 101, quoting incident reference P14172787.