MARLOW mountain bike racer Neil Wragg burned off 36,000 calories doing the Italian job.

The 40-year-old used up the equivalent of 122 Mars bars worth of energy as he completed the 600km Transalp Mountain Bike Race.

The race has been dubbed the toughest mountain bike race in the world and Wragg and his team-mate David Hawkins from Birmingham would not disagree.

They completed the gruelling eight-day race which involved climbing 19,685 metres as they raced from Germany across the Alps through Austria and Switzerland in 45 hours, 24 minutes and 1.2 seconds.

That put them 182nd in the open category – a group that contains Olympic and World Champions and included 550 teams from countries such as South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, USA, Canada and Costa Rica.

On most days they were riding at gradients of more than 20 per cent on rocky tracks and in temperatures that went from one extreme to the other.

They sizzled in 30 degree heat but then saw temperatures dive on some of the Alpine passes they were riding at levels of up to 3,000 metres where they encountered hail storms and ice cold rain.

Throughout the race they had the support of Wragg’s father Peter and Geoff Paling, who drove their back-up vehicle – a hired motorhome – which was their bed for the night.

And they made the most of their rest stops.

Wragg said: “We improved our overall position after every stage each day even though legs were getting tired and everything else was getting sore.”

And he added after the race: “As a weight loss plan it works quite well, however the celebratory meal at the end might have made up the difference!”

The duo’s efforts have raised almost £900 for the Cyclists Fighting Cancer charity.