The idea of cycling to Paris popped up back in 2001. A Rynkeby Foods employee, Knud Vilstrup, was diagnosed with COPD (smoker's lung). He wanted to do something to ensure that he was living a healthier life – although quitting cigarettes was out of the question!
He had a vague idea that he should do some physical training but he also wanted to gain an interesting experience.
He raised the issue at the Rynkeby Christmas party later that year. Knud Vilstrup asked Rynkeby's Technical Director at that time, Torben Møller-Larsen, if he thought it would be interesting to cycle to Paris to see the final stage of the Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées – and whether he would sponsor some juice for the trip. Torben Møller-Larsen agreed, on condition that he was allowed to join the trip.
Knud Vilstrup then called Torben Møller-Larsen several times to make sure that he still felt that the trip could materialise. After several abortive attempts, Vilstrup was given the go-ahead. He got plenty of juice sponsored for the trip, 10,000 AUD to start the project and was presented with a requirement: that there should be at least 10 cyclists on the trip. The team was formed during spring 2002 and named "Team Rynke": There were 11 cyclists and one volunteer in a minibus. They were all ready to travel just over 1,200 kilometres from Ringe in Denmark to Paris later that year.
Knud Vilstrup's vague idea had become a reality.
Team Rynkeby was not founded as a charity project. However, when the cyclists returned home from their first trip in 2002, they had made a profit of 7,800 AUD and they decided to donate this money to the children's cancer unit at Odense University Hospital. Following their successful and very challenging trip to Paris, Knud Vilstrup persuaded Jørgen Dirksen, CEO of Rynkeby Foods A/S, to invest money in the project once more. This was the start of the charity project that exists today, where the number of participants and sponsors is growing steadily year by year – and so do donations to the organisations that Team Rynkeby supports.