Top sports stars are a competitive bunch, and that applies equally once they’ve hung up their boots and joined the celebrity circuit, whether that be endorsing burgers or riding around the grounds hosting the Six Nations rugby tournament to raise money for charity.
As you’ve probably worked out, we’re talking about former England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio, who is currently cycling towards Dublin’s Croke Park to complete the penultimate leg of his Cycle Slam challenge, which finishes in Edinburgh later this month.
Now, the former Wasps forward, who famously slammed his fist on a McDonald’s counter in an ad for the fast food giant – behaviour that according to the sign in our local branch of the Golden Arches franchise would have the manager reaching for the phone to get the police– has levelled his steely gaze at David Walliams and his team of celebrities who yesterday completed their John O’Groats to Land’s End ride in a little under 82 hours.
According to Dallaglio, that ride, much of it undertaken at night in sub-zero temperatures and taking in some of Britain’s most challenging roads including the 1,000 foot climb of the Kirkstone Pass, was "not a huge physical challenge," reports the Press Association.
Well, perhaps not to a former professional sportsman who represented his country 85 times, mixing it in the scrum against Six Nations rivals and the best the Southern Hemisphere countries can offer, but it may seem different from the perspective of, say, Big Brother host Davina McCall or Irish comic Patrick Kielty, neither role noted for demanding a powerhouse physique.
It turns out, though, that Dallaglio’s remarks are in effect good-natured banter, something rugby players are noted for, at least until the post-match beers really kick in, and that he appreciates the efforts that Walliams and his team made to raise money for good causes.
"It is not a huge physical challenge what they are up to’” explained Dallaglio, adding “they are doing a relay so they are taking it in turns but it is an amazing thing that they are doing."
He continued: "We've billed it as Little Britain versus Big Europe, ours is more of an endurance. It has been very tough, there's no doubt about it, 27 days of cycling.
"Theirs is obviously over quickly, very short and sharp, but still raising money for a fantastic cause."
Earlier this week, Dallaglio arrived at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium with co-riders including cricketers Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff and Michael Vaughan, as well as All Black legend Zinzan Brooke.
Flintoff told the England Cricket Board that he welcomed the chance to take part in the ride as part of his rehabilitation from injury, saying: “I am delighted to be involved in the cycle, because raising money for these charities is fantastic.”
The big fast bowler, who retired from test cricket at the end of last year’s successful Ashes series, added: “They are a great group of people who are working extremely hard on this incredible challenge.
“It is beneficial on many levels as it lets me get involved in something that benefits Sports Relief and the Dallaglio Foundation as well as helping with my rehabilitation from knee surgery.
Flintoff concluded: “Lawrence is a phenomenal athlete and a very strong cyclist. After initially trying to keep up with him, I dropped back to a group more suited to my pace.”
Like the John O’Groats to Land’s End team, Dallaglio has also set himself a £1 million fundraising target, with money being equally split between Sport Relief and the Dallaglio Foundation.
He’s currently just over the £700,000 mark, and you can donate via the Cycle Slam website, which also gives full details of the riders’ itinerary as well as a blog updating their daily progress.
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.