‘Surreal, fantastic’: Salford war veteran lauds Wiggins effect for cycling inspiration pre 100-mile charity effort

A Salford war veteran insists a cycling masterclass from Sir Bradley Wiggins has boosted his confidence on the bike as he prepares to ride 100 miles in aid of the Invictus Foundation.

Carl Downing (above left) met the seven-time Olympic medallist and Tour de France champion at the launch event of the Prudential RideLondon, ahead of taking to the capital’s roads on July 31.

The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 celebrates the legacy created by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and will follow a route on closed roads through the city and into the stunning Surrey countryside.

The largest annual cycling fundraising event on the planet, the Prudential RideLondon has raised over £17million since its inception in 2013, and welcomes thousands of amateur riders to the streets of London every year.

And for 27-year-old Downing, the ride will provide the perfect opportunity to encourage ex-servicemen and women to get involved with sport and the foundation.

“I’m really looking forward to doing the ride,” he said. “But 100 miles is a long way so I’m going to have to do a lot of training.

“I’ve never done something like this before so it should be good, but I’ll be very happy to finish.

“It’s really surreal to have the opportunity to do something like this and to meet Bradley is fantastic, it’s really good of him to come down and meet all the lads.

“Big companies such as Prudential getting involved with charities such as the Invictus Foundation has such a massive impact on showing how far ex-servicemen and women can potentially go, and I don’t think it would happen without them.

“It’s good to get all the lads involved, because once you have been discharged from the Armed Forces, you are more or less left on your own unless you get involved with charities.”

At the launch Downing spent time speaking with Wiggins, and the Tour de France winner believes taking part in the spectacle on Sunday July 31 will hopefully go a long way to helping inspire the participants to fulfil their potential.

“It doesn’t take much to be inspired, I watched the Olympic Games in 1992 and I was inspired by watching the cycling there and that was thousands of miles away,” Wiggins said.

“It is the first time a lot of them will have been on a proper bike and to think in four or five months time they will be doing close to 50 miles around the closed streets of London, it is a huge opportunity for them.

“A lot of them don’t quite realise the potential they have got and I think that is the key to it. This is just the start for them, if they achieve this they can achievement anything.”

The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey100 takes place on Sunday, July 31. For more information or to enter visit

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