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Watson: Winner Of The 3rd GU Sports Personality Of The Year
Wed Jan 7, 2004
Source: Guardian Unlimited

Before we go any further, click here.

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you. That really is a bike, 150ft in the air above the Alpe D'Huez, jumping the peleton of the 2003 Tour De France.

So what kind of madman would attempt such a feat? Step forward, Dave Watson, winner of the Guardian Unlimited's Sports Personality of the Year Award 2003.

"We kind of wanted to tie the evolution of cycling into the 100th year of Le Tour," explains freerider cyclist Dave. "And jumping over the peleton seemed the best way to do it."

So how did it all come about? "It was unofficial, of course," says Dave, "we didn't think we'd get permission, so we got there three days early and built the jump in about an hour and a half. "Our aim was to take a practice jump, but there were already lots of people and police about, so we had to sit around twiddling our thumbs."

"All it would have taken was for one person to say 'look, there's three guys here building a ramp!' and it would have been over."

Lady Luck was smiling, however, leaving Watson free to attempt the jump.

"It was unreal," he recalls. "To be honest, it happened so fast I get a bigger buzz now from watching the film. I've done so many jumps of that size, week after week after week, they all kind of morph into one. But that one was kind of different because I'm looking down and seeing those riders so it was pretty surreal."

Dave's exploits narrowly won out over a field that was as competitive as a Dad on school sports day.

In second place came ever-colourful QPR manager Ian Holloway, who in August compared a fortunate win over Chesterfield to picking up a woman in a nightclub and getting her back to his pad for coffee and sweet music. She wasn't much to look at, he reasoned, but a result's a result's a result. Plus, she could probably knock him up a full English the next morning.

Meanwhile in third place on the podium was American cyclist Tyler Hamilton - one better than the fourth he managed in the Tour De France despite riding with a broken collarbone almost throughout the entire race.

Speaking of suffering, Dave suffered for his profession too - injuring his shoulder and a bruised groin after landing short. "Nothing too serious though," he insists.

As for the future, Dave - who's Canadian - wants to become more political in scope. "Something to do with the Bush campaign, or World Aid in Africa would be interesting," he says. "Every day we sit down and come up with a bunch of whacked-out ideas - but unfortunately I can't tell you what."

Jumping the President's cavalcade, perhaps? "No. I don't think so," Dave says, laughing. "But you never know. You really never know."

* See more of Dave's stunning Tour De France jump on the new DVD/video New World Disorder 4 "Ride the Lightning", available from all good shops now.

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