Former Formula 1 World Champion Nigel Mansell is swapping four wheels for two and the Renault engine that powered his Williams car to victory for his own legs as he prepares to take part in this year’s London to Paris (L2P) ride.
Mansell, still Britain’s most successful driver in the sport with 31 Grand Prix victories to his name, is the latest celebrity to sign up to the event, joining the likes of former All Blacks Rugby Union star Zinzane Brooke, cycling legend Stephen Roche and England footballer Geoff Thomas on the 550km, three-day cyclosportive which begins on June 24.
Olympic Individual Pursuit Champion Rebecca Romero is also riding the event as part of her switch to the road ahead of this year’s World Road Championships in Melbourne and, ultimately, the London 2012 Olympics.
For his part, Mansell is using L2P as preparation for the Nigel Mansell Cycle for Youth, a fund-raising cycle tour around the UK that begins on 22 July to raise money for the charity UK Youth, of which he is president.
Mansell explains: “It’s our centenary this year so we wanted to do something challenging and inspiring and that’s where cycling came in. In July, we’re cycling 1200 miles across Britain and The L2P is the ideal preparation for our team.”
He added: “I’ve heard about The L2P’s legendary atmosphere and we thought we’d get some real inspiration from some of the great cyclists taking part. I’m really looking forward to getting on The L2P starting grid and I know that arriving in Paris with the peloton will be an amazing experience.”
Joining Mansell in his team will be his wife Susan, sons Leo, 25, and Greg, 22, plus Ian Williams, who co-owns the Big Maggy’s Coffee and Cycle Shop in St Helier, Jersey, with 2004 Paris-Roubaix winner, Magnus Backstedt, who will also be riding L2P this year.
L2P director Sven Thiele said: “It’s absolutely terrific that Nigel and his team are joining us. We are proud that he has chosen our event as a warm up for his 1,200 mile ride across Britain. I know that our riders will be very excited about riding with Nigel, who is one of Britain’s great sporting legends.”
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.