By Simon Smythe
Ask any cycling fan and they’ll agree this year’s Tour de France had pretty much everything – but one thing it was missing was triple jump world record holder-turned presenter Jonathan Edwards, who was the face of Eurosport's coverage for four Grand Tours.
CW caught up with Edwards recently when he went to east London to pick up his third Racer Rosa bike, a bespoke aluminium model almost identical and indeed made in the same batch as the one we reviewed.
Edwards, 53, confirmed that he’s not working with Discovery Channel/Eurosport this year and is “chatting to various people”about presenting at the Tokyo Olympics last year as well as working in a consulting role on Paris 2024. He’s also fitting in a good amount of bike riding from his holiday home in the Lake District, where he spends about a week a month.
“I’m getting out about three days a week, an hour-and-a-half, two hours slightly harder, but if I’m out with some pals it would be slightly longer, more leisurely with a coffee stop.
"In the Lakes there’s Derwent Valley CC. As we don’t live there full time [Edwards lives the rest of the time in the North East] I don’t get out on all the clubruns but there are informal groups who get out all the time – who are retired or have flexibility with work. There’s always somebody on the WhatsApp group who’s ready for a couple of hours somewhere. And the Lakes is just glorious.”
Racer Rosa is a boutique bike brand based in Walthamstow and run by Diego Lombardi, who has his frames custom built in Italy and flies Italian Grand Tour bike fitter Giuseppe Giannecchini (pictured with Edwards) to London a weekend a month to work with his UK customers. How did Edwards come to ride Racer Rosa bikes?
“Alison, Diego’s wife, is a production manager for Film Nova, Brendan Foster’s company, Great North Run, the film section of it. They did all the production for the Great Manchester Run, the Great CityGames and so I’ve known Alison through my television work for a number of years. A while ago she said, my husband Diego has this little bespoke bike company, would you be interested in doing a bit of work with us, we’ll fit you out with a bike and you can do some PR? I was like, wow, that would be incredible. I was already doing quite a lot of cycling and commentating – all the track cycling for the BBC, World Road Championships, and so I’d moved into doing some broadcasting on cycling. So they saw that as an opportunity, but for me I loved the concept of the company, the idea of having a bespoke bike was really special and I remember being really excited meeting Giuseppe, the guy who fits Grand Tour riders, and he’s going to fit me as well – how much would it improve my performance and how much more comfortable would it be…? And it really was. The bikes are beautiful, you get to choose your own colour scheme and I just loved it.
“There were quite a few changes that Giuseppe made. I think my body was just fighting against the geometry of my bike a little bit but I didn’t really have particular issues. It was an off-the-peg bike from a major brand fitted using their own fitting system but it didn’t really work for me.
“I got a custom steel bike, then a carbon one and then this one [aluminium] which will be the bike I keep in the Lakes. I also got a Ritchey breakaway bike made using Giuseppe’s geometry. And it’s nice to have something different. Some people like to have bikes like the pro racers but I’m keen to have something that’s a bit quirky.
“My set-up is what Giuseppe insists on. If I insisted on something Giuseppe would tell me I was wrong and I’d have no choice. It’s that sort of a relationship [laughs].
“So yes, I’ve been having a quieter time which I have to say I’ve been quite enjoying. I retired from my athletics career and the next day I was in the commentary box. So not so much on the commentary side and that’s fine. It’s been quite nice to take my foot off the gas a little bit and spend more time in the saddle.”
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