Cycle ace Tomm’s a tough act to follow

Launch of the first ever Tour de France school's resource pack, at Kettlethorpe High School, Standbridge Lane, Wakefield.
Launch of the first ever Tour de France school's resource pack, at Kettlethorpe High School, Standbridge Lane, Wakefield.
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From the theatre stage to the tough stages of the Tour de France, leading man Tomm Coles is headed for one packed summer.

The actor is to cycle both stages of Le Grand Depart in Yorkshire – including a series of challenging climbs in Sheffield – in between starring in four productions of Miss Nightingale and before the peloton arrives.

And if that wasn’t enough, the nutritionist is also making his own non-processed natural meals to keep him fuelled for the mission.

Tomm said: “It is going to be a challenge.

“Both of the stages are very hilly so I know it will be tough, but the great thing is that these are stunning routes chosen for the Tour de France.

“There is so much going on in Yorkshire for the Tour that I’ll be up all the time, I’m hoping to come and watch the race in Sheffield after I’ve cycled the routes and the show has finished.”

The 34-year-old is no stranger to multi-tasking, as he trained for the Barcelona Ironman during last year’s hit touring production of Miss Nightingale in the UK and West End.

The 1940s love story musical is produced by Sheffield company Mr Bugg Presents, written by award-winning Sheffield composer Matthew Bugg, and stars Sheffielder Jill Cardo as leading lady.

And it is part of the Yorkshire Festival Fringe, 100 days of arts and cultural events from March 27 to July 6, welcoming Le Tour to Yorkshire.

Tom, who plays the part of wealthy London nightclub owner Sir Frank in the show, added: “Last year’s challenge was tough but it left me in great condition for the show.

“So when I came around to doing it again I was talking to some friends about what I could do this time.

“I don’t know what I would have done with myself otherwise! Luckily I have done the show before so there isn’t quite as much work to do.

“They can take the bike on the tour bus so I don’t have to mess about and the good thing is that I can train anywhere.”

But Tomm knows the secret to his success, both on stage and out on the road, depends on him getting plenty of rest and nutrition in between his hectic schedule.

He added: “When you do endurance training there are so many products available but there are all processed.

“As a nutritionist I want it to be as healthily as possible so I’ve been making my own nutrition bars. Nutrition is absolutely key to cycling because it is such an endurance sport.

“You’ve got to give your body the chance to recovery as well, that’s crucial, so I will squeeze some sleep in.”

Miss Nightingale is at The Library Theatre in Sheffield from April 28 to Friday May 2 and Cast, Doncaster, from Thursday April 10.

Visit www.missnightingale.co.uk for more details.

Borrow a bike and get going

Budding cyclists can follow in the treads of Sir Bradley Wiggins by signing up for a free bike scheme.

Cycle Boost Sheffield is launching its first loan phase next month – allowing anyone who lives or works in north Sheffield to borrow a bike and try out the sport.

They can also loan accessories such as a helmet and bike lock, then take part in a skills session.

Organisers at Cycle Boost – which works on behalf of Sheffield Council to get people into cycling – say it is a great way to give pedal power a go without a massive cost outlay.

Employees and tenants at Sanctuary Housing in Shiregreen and staff at Independent Forgings and Alloys Ltd in Hillsborough are also eligible.

Bike pick-up is at Firth Park Academy on Tuesday, April 1, between 3.30pm and 7.30 pm.

An alternative pick-up location is the Arches workshop at Norfolk Bridge between 4 pm and 7 pm on April 3.

Sign up online at http://sheffieldcycleboost.org/shiregreen/.

‘The second stage into Sheffield is particularly brutal’

Legendary local cyclist Dean Downing says those taking on the challenge of the two Yorkshire stages need to know their limits.

Downing, aged 39, from Rotherham, is in his last season as a professional cyclist after a glittering career that has seen him win races across Europe.

Such is his experience that Tour organisers asked him and younger brother Russell – also a top class professional – to reconnaissance parts of the route.

He said the stages offer totally different propositions with the second stage into Sheffield on Saturday, July 6, being particularly brutal.

“I did the last 25 miles the other day for the first time and it is savage,” he said.

“There are a lot of dead corners before hills where you have to slow right down – even the professionals will be slowing down.

“Jenkin Road, near Meadowhall, is very tough. I found it hard work to get up it. Some of the steepest sections, around 25 per cent inclines, are near the top and after 100 miles it will be a real test on the legs.”

Veteran racers like Downing will enjoy pitting their wits over the 190 kilometres from Leeds to Harrogate and the 200km from York to Sheffield.

However, there will also be enthusiastic newcomers to the sport who will want to experience a bit of the Tour too.

Downing says he’s delighted cycling is capturing the public’s imagination.

He said: “It’s great that so many people want to have a go at the stages.

“The most important thing is understanding how fit you are. Particularly the Sheffield stage will require you to hold a bit back for the finish.

“It also changes direction a lot so the wind will be coming at you from different places.

“There’s no point slogging hard into the wind for 40 miles or going to fast when you have the wind with you. It’s about being sensible.”

Downing, who rides for British team NFTO Pro Cycling alongside Russell and Sheffield’s Adam Blythe, suggests working in a team is preferable.

“If you go out as a group of even three or four there will be more protection against the wind,” he said.

“You can take it in turns to set the pace and it’s always more fun to ride as part of a group.”

Downing will be much in demand over the next 100 or so days as the Tour teams pick his brains for tips on roads he knows well.