New Zealand rugby union legend Zinzan Brooke is set to join Lawrence Dallaglio on his Cycle Slam bike ride, through which the former England captain hopes to raise £1 million for Sports Relief by pedalling 2,800 kilometres between the stadiums used in the RBS Six Nations tournament.
And while the six foot three Dallaglio is perhaps fittingly riding a Giant bike throughout his endeavour, Brooke is using a BMC Road Racer SL01 machine – appropriately finished in all black, right down to the bartape, and the brand ridden, of course, by another Antipodean sports star, current World Road Race Champion, Cadel Evans.
Another Evans – the London-based bicycle retailer of that name – came to Brooke’s aid when he was invited to take part in the final two legs of the challenge, but faced the minor hurdle of not actually having a bike.
Brooke, who continues to play amateur rugby for Windsor RFC, was put in touch with Evans Cycles, exclusive UK distributor of the Swiss brand, by Clydesdale Bank, and the retailer’s Reading branch fitted him out with the £1,700 bike.
The former All Black, widely regarded as one of the greatest No 8s in the sport’s history, will be joining Dallaglio on the final two legs of the ride, comprising 550 kilometres through Ireland and Scotland, and is himself aiming to raise £20,000 for DebRA, a charity that works for people with the genetic skin blistering condition, Epidermolysis Bullosa, donations to which can be made through his page on the charity website, Just Giving.
Brooke said: "I'd like to thank Clydesdale Bank and Evans Cycles for helping me out at short notice so I can take part in the Dallaglio Cycle Slam," adding “when I saw the bike I¹ll be using I suddenly realised what I’d signed up for. Cycling is dominated by athletes half my size and possibly a third of my weight, so I did think I might have been a bit hasty in agreeing to take part."
The custom fitting session at the Evans store helped allay some of those misgivings, however, with Brooke explaining: "Now, after fitting a comfortable saddle and customised stem to give me various gripping options, the confidence has returned and I’m raring to go."
Dallaglio’s ride began last Friday in Rome, ahead of England’s RBS Six Nations meeting with Italy, and he’ll be hoping for an easier ride than the hosts gave to the country he used to represent on Sunday, as he heads towards Paris, Twickenham, Cardiff, Dublin and, finally, Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, where he is due to arrive on 13 March.
The former England skipper has so far raised more than half his target, with donations on the Dallaglio Cycle Slam website standing at more than £547,000.
This afternoon, he and his team are spending their fourth day in the saddle – Sunday was a rest day to watch the rugby – and are pedalling along the Ligurian coast, following the route of Milan-San Remo, where they will spend the night before heading into France.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.