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Tour de Celeb series finale -here's our verdict, how was it for you?

Our man Big Dave has the remote control as the stars take on L'Etape du Tour...

It was the season finale of the Channel 5 reality TV show Tour de Celeb on Monday, which saw the eight contestants take on July's Etape du Tour in the French Alps.

> Tour de Celeb concludes as stars ride L'Etape

Our man Big Dave Atkinson was in charge of the remote control for the evening, as well as the road.cc Twitter account. Here's his verdict - let us know what you think in the comments below and if you missed the series you can catch it all here.

Well, they all made it.

If you were being uncharitable you might point to the fact that the Etape was shortened and the broom wagon cut-off reasonably generous; that worked in Louie Spence’s favour and also that of Hugo Taylor, who spent 45 minutes sitting by the side of the road because he didn’t know how to fix a puncture. Fail to plan, etc and so on.

But credit where credit’s due: everyone got round on a hot day that still included three significant climbs, including the Joux Plane which is generally considered to be no fun at all.

Louie tried to shorten it by walking directly up between the hairpins at one point, but in reality – and indeed on reality TV – that’s probably not any easier.

Who was the star?

Well, Austin Healey smashed round in well under five hours, which is impressive, but he’s not exactly a stranger to two wheels.

Amy Williams, who we bumped into a few times while training around Bath before the Etape this year, knocked the 122km off in a very solid six and a half hours.

And on the subject of very solid things Darren Gough, who’s definitely not built for the hills, came home about an hour after that. That was probably the standout ride of the eight. Jodie Kidd struggled with mechanical issues on her Dassi bike, but made it round well within time.

Lucy Mecklenburgh spent the days before the Etape descending like Bambi crossing the frozen pond and didn’t look comfortable with the crowds, and Angelica Bell stuck to her game plan of walking the steep bits and still managed to make it home in plenty of time.

In the end the blue team of Williams, Gough, Spence and Mecklenburgh edged out the reds by nine minutes, with Taylor’s 45-minute puncture siesta more than the difference between the two.

But in the end the Etape is a personal battle and all eight can be proud that they made it to the finish line; thousands every year don’t.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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34 comments

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J90 | 7 years ago
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Cringey in places, 2.5/5.

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timtak | 7 years ago
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The only name I recognised is Austin Healey, which is that of a car.

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swivel | 7 years ago
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I was on the telly for this - sleeping on the grass by the dung heap at the 5km mark from the top of joue plane.........

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Simon E | 7 years ago
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I don't like celebrity TV so didn't watch any of it but I did read this interview with Angelica Bell:

http://www.casquette.co.uk/people/2016/12/19/angellica-bell-zero-to-hero

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Baldy1alex | 7 years ago
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WHERE DO THEY FIND THESE PEOPLE

 I just found the whole thing a bit dull only four of them were worth watching if this is made again would the producers try and find some willing / interested celebs there are plenty about . Rather than the 4 Serious and 4 who were in to raise thier non clebe ness, it would make for a lot more interesting show in my opinion .*!

 

 

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RMurphy195 | 7 years ago
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You really have to admire the riders, especially those who are simply not cyclists, or who had to overcome some real fears and anxieties in order to complete the ride. Wizzing down those hills when downhill makes you nervous? Could I do it - maybe, but in a crowd, and with the scary road edges (or lack of) No.

Quite apart from having to get physically fit enough to do even a fraction of the length of the Etape - and the climbs!

Only let down by being a commercial channel, where the only way I can watch a program is to record it and skip the breaks. And the over-dramatisation of parts of it. Did we really need to see the competitors losing thier lunch at all, let alone over and over again? Producers please note - there must have been a lot more interesting stuff that could have been put in, unless they tried to do it on the cheap.

 

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FatBoyW | 7 years ago
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I think the criticism of Hayles and Storey seems very harsh, we don't get to see the coaching hard yards that would have gone on of camera.

 

not knowing how to change a tube? Let me guess, coaches asked the guys to sit and learn, Hugo decided Glastonbury or anything else was more important, I mean he was so committed!

bike fit? I watched again and they all looked at worst on sportive setting, no hip rotations or anything to my untrained eye.

 

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Yorkshire wallet | 7 years ago
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I didn't realise it was shortened until I just read this. Watched it last night and the wife asked how long it was so I googled the TDF distance and was jaw dropped by Austin. Still a really good performance despite it being shortened, bit then again he is an ex elite athlete.

I think I was most impressed by fat lad Gough and beginner Angela. Funny that Hugo thought she'd not finish and he was last.

Least impressed by the mechanical nonsense that went on. Chains falling off? FFS. Shouldn't happen, especially on stuff with decent groupsets. Seems like Halfords did the indexing. The punctures seemed daft as well. Teach them to cycle but not change a tube? How the hell do you get punctures on roads like that anyway?

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crazy-legs replied to Yorkshire wallet | 7 years ago
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Yorkshire wallet wrote:

The punctures seemed daft as well. Teach them to cycle but not change a tube? How the hell do you get punctures on roads like that anyway?

Heat - believe it or not there were a LOT of heat-induced blowouts on descents, at one point it sounded like a firing range. I can imagine with more nervous riders, more prone to dragging the brakes it will have been worse.

(I'll add now, I watched about 10 minutes of that catch-up link before having to turn it off due to the contrived nature of it all (much as I like and admire Rob Hayles and Dame Sarah Storey), the show was just too over-egged).

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Crashboy | 7 years ago
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Hugo - whoever he is and whatever he does - should have been given the elbow for crying off to go to Glasto without telling his team - even for reality TV with it's overblown drama, that was just rude.  He didn't deserve the chance to do it and then had the gall to sit there and harp on at the end about how it would stay with him the rest of his life etc. 

I would imagine there was a lot of sweary arguing from Gough and Healy about that which was cut out (shame!).

A more contrived mix of celebs you couldn't imagine - they always knew it would go down to two teams, so you had to have two uber competitive people in there,  throw in an Olympian so you could compare the layman to the pro and give the show some creedence and then some underdogs for drama.....Entertaining enough in a cringeworthy way;  better celebs and less repetition of clips of people vomiting in laybys would improve it.

 

 

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Dnnnnnn | 7 years ago
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Just to be contrarian, I thought it was rubbish. Cheaply made, full of unconvincing 'drama' and unappealing, self-absorbed non-celebs. Had it not been about cycling, and a couple of the "celebs" quite easy on the eye then I probably would have found it entirely unwatchable.

Having not owned a telly for 20 years (and not a 'catch-up' user either) I'm probably not the intended audience for this sort of thing. Maybe Radio 4 will do something on cycling...

 

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davel replied to Dnnnnnn | 7 years ago
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Duncann wrote:

Just to be contrarian, I thought it was rubbish. Cheaply made, full of unconvincing 'drama' and unappealing, self-absorbed non-celebs. Had it not been about cycling, and a couple of the "celebs" quite easy on the eye then I probably would have found it entirely unwatchable.

Having not owned a telly for 20 years (and not a 'catch-up' user either) I'm probably not the intended audience for this sort of thing. Maybe Radio 4 will do something on cycling...

 

They quite often do. Unfortunately, about 50% of the programme is given over to the first white van man they can find to prattle on about congestion, insurance, RLJing and pavement hooliganism. In the interests of balance, of course.

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egb | 7 years ago
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I will enjoyed it. Having ridden the Joux Plane I can confirm it is truly tough. There's a km stretch about half way up that looks and feels like a wall, which is thoroughly demoralising! It took me an hour in mid summer heat and that was the first of my climbs that day. Kudos for the lot of them for finishing. I do have a bit of a crush on Angelica.

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jollygoodvelo | 7 years ago
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I enjoyed it.  Yes, Angellica's technical issues, Louis' diva strop and Lucy's mental block were things that could have been sorted by a decent coach.  Jodie's knee issue was simply unfortunate.

But on Ride London this year I saw all of those things - I know the Etape would like to think it's a higher level! - and you know what, it's fine.  As an experienced rider and a good descender (gravity, yeah!), I simply give the nervous people more room.

The thing I can't accept is that Hugo firstly couldn't fix a puncture and secondly didn't commit to realising his potential.  Reality TV is best when there's a range of achievement - but he should have realised that he was suppoesd to be one of the 'good' ones.  Failing because you were scared or heavy or not fit enough - that's OK.  Failing because you didn't take it seriously - no.  His team lost by nine minutes when he spent 45 minutes at the side of the road faffing about.  Pathetic.

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Oscar08 | 7 years ago
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Yes, they both finished, but if I was one of the coaches I'd have thrown the useless 'reality TV' stars Lucy & Hugo down a mountain.  They're both physically built to be good cyclists but had less resilience than the average amoeba. Truly pathetic the two of them

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Jitensha Oni replied to Oscar08 | 7 years ago
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Quote:

But in the end the Etape is a personal battle and all eight can be proud that they made it to the finish line; thousands every year don’t.

Exactly.

Angelica Bell - brilliant! she knew how to achieve it.
Darren Gough - what a hero - was worried about him being able to cope with hundreds of metres of climbing given his weight. But what do I know.
Austin Healy - beast, you knew he'd do it in a very good time, but...
Jodie Kidd - meh, they had to screw her knee and nobble her chain to stop her winning  3
Lucy Mecklenburgh - wonder what wiil be more important when she's with her grandkids, this or reality TV.
Louie Spence  - Louie! I expected better. But you got there. Chapeau!
Hugo Taylor - the legs seemed to say cyclist, the head didn't - somewhat screwed by the punctures though; presumably the butler wasn't allowed.
Amy Wiiliams - the Olympian will out. Not envious at all that she has athlete's genes  7

Bring on series 2!!

 

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Russell Orgazoid | 7 years ago
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Jodie Kidd was a model and Amy Williams wasn't?! Absurd.

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mike the bike replied to Russell Orgazoid | 7 years ago
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Plasterer's Radio wrote:

 Jodie Kidd was a model and Amy Williams wasn't?! Absurd.  

I'm probably a little older than you so I can remember Jodie in her prime.  She was six feet of blonde stun gun.  Even now, twenty years and two children further down the road, she is lovely. 

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Kapelmuur | 7 years ago
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There was a lot of hype about how tough a challenge the Etape is, but a fat boozer, a woman who couldn't ride a bike and pushed her machine uphill and a lazy trustafarian all finished well within the cutoff time.

Cycling's not as hard as people make out.

 

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Alessandro replied to Kapelmuur | 7 years ago
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Kapelmuur wrote:

There was a lot of hype about how tough a challenge the Etape is, but a fat boozer, a woman who couldn't ride a bike and pushed her machine uphill and a lazy trustafarian all finished well within the cutoff time.

Cycling's not as hard as people make out.

 

Presume you smashed it out in under 4 hours, aye?

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handlebarcam | 7 years ago
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I caught bits of the last episode. I didn't know who any of the people in it were. Not one. But I suspect I am not the target audience, given that I don't watch any sports other than cycling, and this is the first reality TV programme I've seen more than two seconds of before switching channel in disgust at how far civilisation has fallen that people will watch other people even if they lack any discernible talent whatsoever. I'm presuming there was some charity fundraising element, otherwise it would have been a shameful waste of much-in-demand Etape places on a bunch of people who were clearly not enjoying the experience.

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ashliejay | 7 years ago
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I got bored, and annoyed by the 2nd episode, and was near screaming at the TV, over not teaching them how to use cleats, or to give them the option for flat pedals or to swap from SPD-SL to SPD pedals, or even shimano click'r which have lower spring tension to make them easier to clip in and out of.

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davel replied to ashliejay | 7 years ago
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ashliejay wrote:

I got bored, and annoyed by the 2nd episode, and was near screaming at the TV, over not teaching them how to use cleats, or to give them the option for flat pedals or to swap from SPD-SL to SPD pedals, or even shimano click'r which have lower spring tension to make them easier to clip in and out of.

About 2 mins into episode 1, it was only Angelica who was really struggling with cleats, so Ithere was plenty of edited-out coaching. What does Joe Public want to watch on channel 5? Minor celebs repeatedly clipping in and out of Garmin Vectors on turbos, or one of them falling off outside?

That said, there was a lot of failure with setup and coaching. dottigirl in another thread raised loads of good points.

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ianrobo replied to davel | 7 years ago
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davel wrote:
ashliejay wrote:

I got bored, and annoyed by the 2nd episode, and was near screaming at the TV, over not teaching them how to use cleats, or to give them the option for flat pedals or to swap from SPD-SL to SPD pedals, or even shimano click'r which have lower spring tension to make them easier to clip in and out of.

About 2 mins into episode 1, it was only Angelica who was really struggling with cleats, so Ithere was plenty of edited-out coaching. What does Joe Public want to watch on channel 5? Minor celebs repeatedly clipping in and out of Garmin Vectors on turbos, or one of them falling off outside?

That said, there was a lot of failure with setup and coaching. dottigirl in another thread raised loads of good points.

 

We should remember whole show was sponsored by Garmin so they were not going to show other pedals.

As for the coaching, we should remember that they were told to do 24 hours riding a week and even Gough is fitter than the average guy. Plus my guess is that did it all by power (as I did) and that is much easier to do with no doubts loads of coaching we did not see.

I did have a go at them on twitter before I knew they had cut the course as Austin;s time over the original course was unbelievable. Jodie Marsh took exception to it and simply said they all tried hard but they were all fit to start with. Thats a massive difference to the average couch potato who think they can do that ! 

Took me three years of trainign before I felt confident to take on the marmotte and finish. so in effect they did it in about 6 months worth of training it two months.

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dottigirl replied to davel | 7 years ago
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davel wrote:

That said, there was a lot of failure with setup and coaching. dottigirl in another thread raised loads of good points.

Thanks! Glad that someone read it.  3

If anyone is interested, my rant is thus:

dottigirl wrote:

Neither Hayles nor Storey are qualified cycling coaches, and you could tell from their advice - they had no idea how to break down and teach the skills needed. And to stick newbies in cleats was verging on criminal. 

Most of the riding problems were due to the badly fitting bikes. Obvious, badly fitting bikes.

Even in episode three, when they were motor-pacing, Louie's saddle was clearly too high - watch it and see [how] his hips were rocking all over the place. I'm not surprised he had lower back pain, I am surprised he managed to finish the Etape at all.

This is something a decent coach should have spotted right at the beginning. 

I suspect the two women's bikes (Angellica and Lucy) were sized down to them: narrow bars plus short stems makes steering twitchy. No wonder she couldn't go one-handed, and I'd expect her to lose a fair bit of power too, like [Louie] would have. 

In one clip, Storey wasn't even watching Lucy descend - she was in front of her going down Box. So, how is she going to correct her technique?

We don't know the gearing they were using. Perhaps a larger cassette could've helped Angellica stay on and not climb off? Perhaps we weren't shown this bit, or perhaps they didn't know there were other options. But, I'd expect a little more understanding and possible solutions from the coaches.

Elite/experienced cyclists often forget the difficulties they had learning the basics. There were so many facepalm and headshake moments from Hayles and Storey, I admire the contestants even more for getting through it.

 

On the whole, I did enjoy it though, and it seems to have gone down well with non-cyclists. 'Experienced' reality TV followers do seem to think Lucy was playing up her fear for the cameras, and Hugo was trying to over-dramatise his part too. Even with a couple of mechanicals, I can't believe he rolled in so far back. Pretty feeble on his behalf.

For Series 2, I'd like to see some actual qualified coaches, some more background (e.g. what bikes they're riding, what training they're doing - apparently, Angellica was spending hours on a Wattbike each morning),  and more of the geeky stuff. Hadn't even realised Jodie's bike was a Dassi - I thought it was a Condor Baracchi like a couple of the others were riding (Healey was on a Giant TCR, Gough was on a Genesis Volare, I think). Someone mentioned Amy Williams was on EDCO wheels. I'm sure Channel 5 could work out some kind of advertising deal with somewhere like Sigma - did anyone else spot the bikes were apparently supplied by Uttoxeter Cycles? No? 

Btw, Angellica now has a Trek. With what appears to be a short reach bars coupled with a short stem. *facepalm*

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Roberts Clubman | 7 years ago
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Agree with most previous comments. It was hyped up but overall I enjoyed it. The celebs appeared to be subjected to unnecessary stress for dramatic effect, eg: Louis's back pain, Jodie's chain problems. A professional bike fit before a pedal was turned, some basic maintenance training and a pre-etape bike service would probably have fixed most of the problems they experienced. 

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sttuey | 7 years ago
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Despite being a masterclass in how to be utterly pathetic on a bike, it was so bad it was good lol

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FatBoyW | 7 years ago
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I loved it - I thought they really captured the essence of how hard the Etape was this year. I wonder how many would have made it if they hadn't removed one of the climbs.

It might be because I had very low expectations of the programme but well done!

 

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beezus fufoon replied to FatBoyW | 7 years ago
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FatBoyW wrote:

I loved it - I thought they really captured the essence of how hard the Etape was this year. I wonder how many would have made it if they hadn't removed one of the climbs.

It might be because I had very low expectations of the programme but well done!

 

only 2,200 metres ascending, pffft

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allgearnoidea | 7 years ago
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on the whole quite enjoyed the show, however the coaching, support and mechanical issues were really shocking! that's the second time Ive watched a cycling show and cringed at things, the other being 'The Coach' on Bike channel.

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