Presenters get on their bikes for BBC Breakfast’s Christmas Challenge
I had never even stepped into a velodrome let alone tried to race in front of over four thousand people, and felt sick with nerves."Louise Minchin
In celebration of a wonderful year of sport, the Breakfast team were set a sporty challenge this year that would test their skills on a bike, as well as their nerve – to take part in a presenter race at the National Cycling Centre’s Velodrome track in Manchester, in front of Team GB Olympic champions and thousands of cycling fans.
Divided into two teams, Bill & Susanna (pink team) and Louise & Charlie (yellow team), they were required to race on the track individually in the quickest time possible, before having their scores added together to give an overall team result.
Ahead of the big race the presenters enjoyed a dedicated one hour training session with Velodrome Cycling Manager Bob Barber, who oversees track cycling for 9 year-olds to 80-plus year-olds in what is now the busiest velodrome in the world. Bob coached the pink team and Track Coach Lisa Daly coached the yellow team.
Bob says: “It’s unusual for riders to go so fast so soon. Louise was a natural, and Charlie got within three seconds of Olympic Champion Ed Clancy.
“I couldn’t tell that Susanna hadn’t ridden a bike for years, and Bill had so much adrenalin flowing we could have plugged him into the National Grid!”
Two-time Olympic gold medallist and Olympic bronze medallist Ed Clancy joined the presenters on the track to encourage them along, while Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead took on a new role by presenting the winning team with their medals.
Talking about the 2012 challenge, Susanna says: “I last cycled properly - that is, for longer than 5 minutes - when I was about 10 years old, so I was anxious enough about getting on a bike with no brakes and fixed gears with my feet locked into the pedals. Add to that the prospect of cycling round a world-class velodrome with an Olympic athlete on my tail and I became faint at the prospect.”
And Louise comments: “I had never even stepped into a velodrome, let alone tried to race in front of over four thousand people, and felt sick with nerves. I was especially feeling the pressure, as it was my first Breakfast Challenge, and I was on Charlie's team and he has never won yet.”
To find out how Bill & Susanna and Louise & Charlie got on in their challenge, tune in to BBC Breakfast on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 December at 8.50am.
BBC Breakfast broadcasts daily from 6am on BBC One and will be live over the festive period including Christmas Day.
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