Gardening now has its very own version of Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins – minus the sideburns.

Chris Beardshaw in training for his gruelling charity cycle ride

Celebrity gardener Chris Beardshaw, the former BBC Flying Gardener, is swapping flower power for pedal power to take part in one of the world’s toughest cycle rides, in aid of charity Arthritis Research UK.

The star cycles to unwind from his garden design and broadcasting work.

He is taking part in the gruelling Haute Route, which sees 500 cyclists from 27 countries cross the Alps, from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean.

The race will see Chris pedal 484 miles (780km) including 68,898ft (21,000m) of ascent, in just seven days.

He has been training for a year, even cycling daily at 5am during the build-up to his gold medal-winning RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden in May.

Chris also has personal reasons for taking part. “People will be surprised at the high numbers of people that are affected by arthritis,” he said.

“I know from my own diagnosis many years ago that it doesn’t spell the end of being able to enjoy what you love doing. I have learnt to manage my condition, he added.”

AG readers can help Chris raise funds. Go to www.justgiving.com/ChrisBeardshawHauteRoute to donate. Or visit www.chrisbeardshaw.com to find out more.