LE SAUX GETS CROSS
Eagle-eyed browsers of the cyclo-cross results may have noticed one Graeme Le Saux listed in the results of the London League held at Dunsfold Park last Sunday. The former footballer, capped 36 times for England, dipped his toe into the world of mud-plugging for the first time at the event in Surrey.
“I really enjoyed it,” said Le Saux. “I have done quite a bit of mountain biking but this was my first time on a ‘cross bike. Bits of the course were so muddy they were quicker to run, but it was great fun.”
The hour-long race seemed longer: “I shouted out ‘How long to go?’ – thinking it must be nearly over – and was told we had only done 25 minutes!” he said. “Coming up for the last lap, I stopped to clear some mud from my brakes, to give it one last effort, only to find I had been lapped by the leaders and the race was over.”
The 39-year-old Channel Islander grew up in Jersey and cycled from an early age, recapturing the bike-bug during his illustrious footballing career at Blackburn, Chelsea and Southampton: “Cycling is very good rehab for injured footballers – the way it works the quads and hamstrings transfers very well,” he said. Managers are presumably not keen on seeing their top players indulging in such a potentially hazardous pastime as riding on the road? “Yes, most of the riding is done on static bikes in the gym, but the Chelsea training ground at Cobham is very big so you can find plenty of off-road there.”
Le Saux still works for Chelsea as ambassador for their CSR - Corporate Social Responsibility - programme: “People think of footballers as earning big money, flash cars and the whole lifestyle. We get them involved in community work, helping local kids and charities,” he explained.
The highlight of his cycling year should have been the Mountain Mayhem, the gruelling 24-hour off-road endurance race in Herefordshire, but plans went awry. Le Saux explained: “I had just got back from Nigeria, where I’d picked up a stomach bug, and I lost half a stone in three days. I got some antibiotics from the doctor and he advised me not to do the race, but I didn’t want to let my team down. I did three laps but that was all I could manage. The weather was absolutely appalling.”
Being the competitive type, Le Saux must be looking to push his cycling further? “No, I’m coming into the sport late – I will be 40 this year – and I have no ambition to be the winner,” he said. “It just shows how one sport doesn’t transfer to another. Give me a football and within ten minutes, it all comes back and I am playing fine, but put me on a bike and it’s like starting all over again.”
He then blew his cover: “I’m off to Majorca this weekend for a week on the bike!”
We will be talking to Graeme when he gets back and finding out just how serious he is…