'I'm sure I could get over 2,000 watts' - meet the Gladiators contestant with track sprinting ambitions

Jamie Christian, also known as Giant, has jaw-dropping power on a bike

Gladiator Jamie Christian aka Giant with a track bike at Derby Velodrome
(Image credit: Simon Reavill / BBC)

“I can whack out a few watts,” says Jamie Christian, in what might be the understatement of the decade. 

The 38-year-old, known as ‘Giant’ on the BBC reboot of Gladiators, is an avid cyclist, capable of laying down elite-level power numbers. 

Now, he wants to start racing on the track, with a focus on the sprint events.

“When someone mentions a bike, I’m all ears,” he tells Cycling Weekly on his afternoon commute to the gym. “It was always a mountain bike in the past, I never had a road bike. 

“When I was a teenager, I always saw older guys on racers and thought, ‘That’s not very cool.’ But the more I’ve gotten into cycling, wanting to take it up as a real hobby, I’ve just wanted to go fast.” 

At 6ft5 and 130kg, Christian is considerably larger than the average cyclist. 

“I used to be a bodybuilder,” he says, “and that used to satisfy that competitive itch. But now that’s gone, cycling has replaced it, and that’s why I wanted to get into track cycling.”

He’s serious about it, too. Christian recently completed his track accreditation at Derby Velodrome, meaning he can now enter races. 

According to his coach, Simon Reavill, he rode “confidently and proficiently with a smooth pedalling style” throughout the sessions. 

“One issue though,” the coach added, “is that he makes our largest track bike look very small”. 

Christian's power numbers would be the envy of even the best professional cyclists. 

“I’ve had a few goes on a Wattbike,” he says, “and this is with absolutely no skill or training, I’ve done like 1,800 watts. I’m sure with a little bit of training and technique I could get over 2,000.”

The highest peak power ever recorded at the UCI Track Champions League is 2,338 watts, courtesy of 13-time world champion Harrie Lavreysen. Most professional track sprinters can manage up to 1,800, while top road sprinter Mark Cavendish’s maximum is said to be 1,600. 

“There may be a career there," says Christian. "Who knows?”

During his bodybuilding days, the Gladiator could leg press 600kg in the gym. He now eats 10,000 calories a day, four times the recommended intake, to feed his muscles. 

Heads turn, he says, when he steps over a bike. 

“Obviously there’s a few laughs and a few stares because the spandex fits me different. To be honest with you, I find the bibs hard to fit. I’ve got to try and find 4XL, but a lot of them only go up to 3XL, which can be really tight.” 

Finding a road bike, too, proved an issue. “I went for the Cannondale Topstone because the system weight was 150kg," he explains. "A lot of them only take up to 110kg, so I was struggling. The thing is, the warranty is invalid if you are heavier, so I just didn’t even try."

Now, Christian is to-ing and fro-ing about whether to invest in a track bike, one that fits him better than those at the velodrome, that he could use for racing. 

He fears he'd "likely get spanked" if he took to the boards on a hire bike. 

“There are probably some guys that don’t look like me, and are probably half my weight that can murder me on a track," Christian laughs. "But that’s the fun in it, isn’t it?

“I’m 6ft5, 130kg and I can smash out these watts, but I’m not the only competitive person out there. It’s almost like a hare to chase.” 

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