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Tour de Celeb: Eight go mad on bicycles and fall off a lot — but is it all fun and games, or just too contrived for words?

Reality TV meets cycling

Get together eight minor celebrities and train them to ride the 2016 Etape du Tour, in just two months. On the one hand Channel 5's Tour de Celeb sounds like yet another deeply contrived reality TV show, but on the other it's a show dedicated to cycling, on prime time TV, and it's not about pro racing. It shows just how far cycling has come from the days when the only time you saw anyone riding bike on TV was the Tour de France highlights or Kevin Keegan crashing on Superstars.

Last night's first instalment of Tour De Celeb featured Louie Spence throwing a massive strop when he went off track in a sportive; Lucy Mecklenburgh putting a big hole in her knee after falling while riding in traffic; Angelica Bell getting understandably freaked out by her first time on clipless pedals and Austin Healey confessing to being a sad bike nerd. None of us know what that's like at all. Ahem.

It's all quite good fun, played for reality TV drama, of course, and introduced with the predictable Dramatic Voice Over About The Huge Challenge The Celbrities Face. There was a disproportionate amount of death and danger though. Simon Warren hit the nail on the head:

Still, if you can remember what being a beginner cyclist was like, you have to feel sorry for the way the inexperienced riders were thrown in the deep end for a bit of drama. You'd think the world of reality TV would have learned something from 'The Jump'.

The obligatory team-building nonsense took out another of our celebs as Jodie Kidd, who seemed to be genuinely looking forward to getting to grips with riding bike, injured herself falling into shallow water. That segment was lightened by Louie Spence rolling around in the mud, but I could have done without watching Kidd hobble painfully off into the sidelines.

For the most part Tour De Celeb managed to make riding bike look like something you might actually do for fun, and the celebs who had some sort of sporty background seemed to be enjoying themselves tremendously. Let's hope over the next few weeks the less experienced riders get a chance to pick up some skills.

If you missed the first episode you can watch it at

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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