London-Surrey Cycle Road Race
2012 Olympic Trial in Richmond Park a Success
Sunday Aug 14: The London Surrey Cycle Race comes to Richmond Park
The residents of Sheen roused their sleepy heads early on Sunday morning to venture out into Richmond Park to watch the 140 kilometre London Surrey Cycle Classic road race – a test race for next year’s London Olympics. The race had been highlighted as part of the London Prepares Series – part of the London 2012 Organising Committee’s (LOCOG) testing program.
Many of us, who would normally have still been lazily savouring our morning cup of coffee, joined lively dog walkers and spritely joggers as we leisurely made our way into the park – on foot since cars had been banned for the day and all roads surrounding the route had been blocked from 6.00 am until 1.00 pm.
The Park was soon abuzz with a considerable amount of locals spread out along the barrier lined road from Roehampton Gate to Richmond Gate, where the cyclists would be passing through. All of us were in eager anticipation of the cyclists’ arrival – due a mere 15 minutes after the race had started in The Mall.
A few police front riders appeared to the cheers of the crowd who were soon followed by what seemed like an endless stream of more police bikers and official cars checking out the road ahead.
Finally, 148 world class cyclists shot into the Park to an even greater roar of the crowd and sped past so rapidly that those of us with cameras barely had a chance to take more than a few photos – other than those lucky few who sported huge zoom lenses and the skill to take cyclists at full speed.
As the cyclists whizzed off in the direction of Richmond Gate, a convoy of team support cars, topped with spare bikes, sped past to additional cheers of the crowd. And then they were all gone – disappearing off into the distance as they made their way along the route to Box Hill, via Twickenham, Teddington, Weybridge, The Byfleets and Dorking.
After a loop round Box Hill the cyclists returned via Leatherhead and Esher before re-entering Richmond Park at Kingston Gate, on their way back to their earlier route between the Richmond and Roehampton Gates before heading off to The Mall.
Many of us who’d been at the Park early in the morning returned a couple of hours later to watch the cyclists on their way back. However, whilst earlier the bikers had all been together as one pack, this time there were two clear leaders. They were swiftly followed by a group of ardent bikers eager to recoup lost ground and then smaller groups of slower cyclists interspersed with police bikers – and finally the team support cars, until the whole calvacade was gone.
All that remained was a lone security officer cycling far behind and sheepishly fending off the occasional cheer, as we all wandered off to watch television to see British cyclist and Olympic gold hopeful, Mark Cavendish, win the race in just under 3 hours and 20 minutes – finishing ahead of Sacha Modolo from Italy and Samuel Dumoulin of France.