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Riders And Rugby Stars Saddle Up At Cyclothon UK

by Nick Gregory

VU Ltd, the sports hospitality and travel business run by former England Rugby prop Victor Ubogu, hosted the third annual Cyclothon UK event at Brands Hatch on September 5th.  More than 270 cyclists from corporate teams, charities, and cycling clubs saddled up and competed in the 12 or 8 hour team endurance races. 

The early risers for the 12 hour race arrived at Brands Hatch in time for a spectacular sunrise and settled into the pit garage that would be their team base for the next 12 hours. Event sponsor Furniture Village were the envy of their neighbours as they furnished their garage with a huge comfortable sofa, later auctioned off to raise money for the Anthony Nolan Trust. Temperatures reached 31 degrees and between laps, riders were seen basking in glorious sunshine, relaxing indoors or cheering on their fellow team mates. 

Team Jocks carrying event organiser Victor Ubogu

The event's popularity has attracted a slew of sporting celebrity riders. Returning competitor, former England and Crystal Palace footballer John Salako said, "what a great day but I'm shattered. Next year I want to get a team of Football Avengers together to challenge the rugby boys!" 

With over 25 rugby celebrities giving their support to the event this year, a challenge arose between Team Bulldogs (Victor Ubogu, Lee Mears, Graham Dawe, John Salako, Tim Stimpson, & Nigel Redman), Team Dragons (Colin Charvis, Alix Popham, Lloyd Burns, Huw Bennett, Vern Cooper, Iestyn Thomas, Peter Rogers & Barry Davies) and Team Jocks (Scott Hastings, Craig Chalmers, Gavin Kerr, Damian Cronin & Sam Chalmers) in the race to claim the Home Nations Challenge Trophy.  

After a closely fought battle that went down to the last few laps, the Welsh powerhouse of Team Dragons were victorious. Team captain and former Wales No 8 Alix Popham commented on the win: "It was a fantastic day out and we're so happy to win the Cyclothon UK's first Home Nations Challenge Trophy. We can't wait to defend our title next year." 

Riders tackle Druids in the searing heat

New to the track this year was England Rugby's former Ladies captain Catherine Spencer.  Catherine, along with Jon Callard and John Hall, rode for the RFU Injured Player's Foundation who returned with 20 fundraisers in 2013, all with the common goal to help fund valuable resources for catastrophically injured rugby players.

Catherine commented on her day: "Cyclothon UK has given me the inspiration to get back on a bike more regularly. Towards the end of the 12 hour day I was even starting to enjoy dragging myself up the steep Brands Hatch hills - of which there are many! The day seemed to run like clockwork and brought two sporting communities together. I think that the true cyclists definitely pull off the Lycra cycling gear better than us rugby players though!" 

Someone who might disagree was TV weather presenter Sian Lloyd who attended the event on behalf of Abigail's Footsteps and was seen boosting morale in all of the competitor's garages.  Sian had correctly forecasted via Twitter that the weather would be '#scorchio!' for the event and her appearance certainly warmed up the teams. Abigail's Footsteps raised over £8,000 at Cyclothon UK, which goes to support families and medical workers who deal with the tragedy of a stillborn child. 

TV weather presenter Sian Lloyd with Frijj

All of the riders competed hard and had a lot of fun, but there has to be a winner! Members of the overall 12 hour team winner, Artemis, won a Rose Bike each and Schwalbe products and other prizes and goody bags were kindly donated by Elemis, Sega and Scimitar. Dairy Crest also kept riders energized with a free flowing supply of their range of tasty Frijj milkshakes. 

Riders at the event enjoyed a hearty breakfast, lunch, all day snacks and buffet dinner, as well as complimentary massage from the Norwich City College Extreme Sports Therapy Unit and mechanical support from Gary's Bikes from Bristol throughout the day. 

Registration for next year's event at Brands Hatch on Thursday 11th September will open shortly and to register your interest for the event and qualify for early bird pricing, email VU Limited on or call 0871 871 5300.

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