Making money for charity is a massive motivation for many of the cyclists taking part in the 2015 Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100, and it’s no different for the celebrity riders in this year’s field.
England rugby union legend Martin Johnson heads up a field that includes former rugby players, Olympic and Paralympic medallists and TV personalities, all of whom will be riding the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 for a variety of charitable causes.
Johnson captained England and Leicester Tigers before taking over as head coach of the national team after retiring as a player. The crowning moment of his career was, of course, captaining England to victory in the 2003 World Cup in Australia. He will take on the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 for a second time this year, after riding the route in the rain at the 2014 event. Since leaving his role as England coach he has become a committed cyclist, regularly signing up for sportives and often riding more than 100 miles each week.
“There are sportives everywhere but Prudential RideLondon has very quickly become the biggest ride in the UK,” says the 45-year-old. “It’s an event that everyone wants to do. It’s quite a quick route, so you can do a fast 100 miles and get a good time, plus you get to ride around London. It’s only happened twice so far but already it’s up there with the best sports events.”
Stars such as Sir Bradley Wiggins raced last time out – but it's not just famous cyclists who take part
Fellow rugby hero Matt Dawson returns to the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 for the third time, again raising money for the charity Beating Bowel Cancer. Dawson represented England, London Wasps and Northampton Saints throughout a distinguished 15-year career and was also part of the victorious team at the 2003 World Cup. Since retiring, he has starred as a team captain on A Question of Sport, finished second in the 2006 series of Strictly Come Dancing and become a regular on BBC Radio Five Live.
Leon Lloyd, one of Johnson’s former Leicester Tigers teammates, and former Wales captain Colin Charvis will also take on the 100-mile challenge in August. Since retiring from rugby in 2008, Lloyd has focused on a career in business, becoming director of two leading sports management companies. He sometimes cycles with his former captain Johnson, who says: “When Leon has time to train he’s half decent, but I’m hoping he doesn’t get that much training in. I want to crush him and make him cry!”
Charvis, who retired in 2009, scored 22 tries for his country and previously held the record for most tries scored by a forward in test match rugby. Like Johnson, he has turned to cycling as a regular hobby since hanging up his rugby boots. “For me, having a body that’s a bit beaten up by rugby, cycling’s ideal,” he says. “Because of my size I’m never going to be the best at it but that spurs me on to keep going.”
Hopefully better weather than 2014 should make the famous names easier to spot
British Olympic legend Sally Gunnell will take part with Team Telegraph, two years after riding in the inaugural event. Gunnell won gold in the 400m hurdles at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and followed that by becoming the 1993 world champion in the same discipline. She is the only female athlete to hold the Commonwealth, European, Olympic and world track titles simultaneously and her best time of 52.74, which was a world record, remains the fastest performance ever by a British woman. Since retiring in 1997, the 48-year-old has been a member of the BBC Sport athletics presenting team and for the past five years has worked as a motivational speaker, encouraging people to get healthy.
“I rode the first one and loved it; all these thousands of people riding around the streets,” says Gunnell. “It went so smoothly; it was a lovely feeling whizzing through London and having a good look around. This time I’m doing it with a friend who I’ve introduced to cycling, so it will be a nice challenge getting her around the route. It’s great to do events like this.”
Another gold medal winning Olympian ready to take on the challenge is Jonathan Edwards, who also rides as part of Team Telegraph. The former triple jump world record holder will ride the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 for the first time after being part of the BBC presenting team for the 2013 and 2014 editions. The 49-year-old, who won gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, remains the world record holder with a jump distance of 18.29m from 1995.
“I’m excited as I’m a very keen cyclist,” says Edwards. “When I retired in 2003 I got into golf but it wasn’t keeping me fit so after about five years I started biking and I’ve just fallen in love with it. Going through London on closed roads should be fantastic.”
RideLondon participants pass by the Houses of Parliament
Joining Gunnell and Edwards riding the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 for Team Telegraph are X-Factor winner Sam Bailey, TV and radio personality Jenni Falconer, BBC presenter John Inverdale and Welsh rugby legend Shane Williams.
Mum of three Bailey won X-Factor in 2013 after quitting her job as a prison officer. She has since gone on to score a number one album and sold-out headline tour in the UK. She will ride the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 for the first time in August.
Also riding the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 for the first time will be TV and radio personalities Falconer and Inverdale. Heart FM presenter Falconer is a seasoned runner having completed four London Marathons but will switch disciplines to complete the 100-mile course in August. BBC and Today at Wimbledon presenter Inverdale is an avid rugby fan and will line up alongside the rugby greats to make his debut on the London and Surrey course.
Completing Team Telegraph is Welsh rugby union legend Shane Williams, who remains the leading try scorer for Wales and winner of the 2008 World Rugby Player of the Year. Having completed his first London Marathon in April, Williams will be making his debut alongside fellow former rugby players Johnson, Lloyd and Charvis.
Among the other celebrity cyclists are cricket legend Allan Lamb and BBC News presenter Sophie Raworth, who both ride in the event for the first time. Lamb played for, and captained, England throughout the 1980s, playing a total of 201 international matches.
Surrey-born mum of three Raworth will be swapping her running trainers for the bike, after participating in the London Marathon on several occasions.
So when you’re putting your foot down and speeding along the roads of Surrey and London on Sunday 2 August, keep an eye out for who’s riding next to you – you never know who it might be!
You overtook who?! The stars cycling the 100-mile sportive
- Martin Johnson – England rugby union 2003 World Cup-winning captain
- Sally Gunnell – 1992 Olympic gold medallist, 400m hurdles
- Jonathan Edwards – 2000 Olympic gold medallist, triple jump
- Matt Dawson – former England rugby union player
- Sophie Raworth – BBC news presenter
- Danny Crates – 2004 Paralympic gold medallist, 800m
- Tim Foster – 2000 Olympic gold medallist, rowing (coxless fours)
- Dr Dawn Harper – Embarrassing Bodies presenter
- Colin Charvis – former Wales rugby union captain
- Leon Lloyd – former England rugby union player
- Shaun McKeown – 2012 Paralympic silver medallist, cycling (individual pursuit)
- Matt Barbet – presenter of ITV4’s The Cycle Show