A CYCLIST who used Wokingham to train is down to the final two in an epic race that pits wheels against wheels.
Specialist TV channel Bike is currently screening The Coach, a bike challenge that aims to find out what makes a champion rider.
More than 2,000 applications were received for the show, which airs on Monday nights at 9pm. The channel said that the high standard of entrants meant that picking the initial 12 was difficult. Over the course of the first two episodes, the 12 were whittled down to two: Stuart Curran and Sandhurst cyclist Nick Bennett.
Now the duo have been mentored by Rob Hayles and Brian Smith – both former Team GB cyclists who competed in Olympic Games – in a fierce contest to see which of their can win in a race staged at the ICAP L’Etape London Sportive. More than 100,000 people have been tuning in via Sky, Virgin and Freesat, to watch the contest take shape.
Mr Bennett said that he had been thrilled to have been selected for the final two and that tonight’s episode sees the production team visit Sandhurst and Wokingham.
“They meet my family as I take my coach on some local roads as I begin my training to win the competition. A lot of my training has been in and around Wokingham – with local friends from cycling groups,” Nick explained.
He said that the process had been really quick and also incredibly helpful.
“I hope it is a story to inspire other people to go out and pursue their dreams and ambitions – I simply heard about it on a website and 12 weeks later, I am now preparing for a 115 mile bike race and it is all being captured for a TV show that had over 100,000 viewers,” he explained.
Mr Bennett said that he used to be quite sporty 15 years ago, but his sporting career came to an end after an accident in which he fractured his spine playing football.
“As I didn’t do any exercise, I put on lots of weight,” he explained, but this all changed when his daughter was born.
“I realised it didn’t have to be like this,” he said, putting his mind on doing something to boost his fitness levels. As he had already completed a marathon, he decided to embark on an iron man challenge.
“I went out and bought a new mountain bike four-and-a-half years ago,” he said.
Part of The Coach means that Nick has been receiving intense training, not just on the bike but learning about food and drink that can help your body prepare for a race.
“I’ve enjoyed the process and learnt so much,” he said. “I’ve realised how important what you put into your body is. It has an affect on how good you are.
“You can be the best cyclist but have the worst diet.”
And cycling has made a big difference and a positive affect on Nick’s life.
“During my training, I have learnt a huge amount and lost a lot of weight in becoming a much better cyclist. I used to be over 20 stone, so the last five years have been a hell of a journey and I am now on the verge of winning an actual bike race thanks to my training,” he said.
The final race took place yesterday, but Nick is remaining tight lipped as to how he did – you’ll have to tune in to find out.
Bike Channel is on Sky 464, Virgin 552 and 251 on Freesat. The Coach airs on Mondays at 9pm.