Cycling route for London 2012 will start in Westminster and finish on The Mall

Friday, 21 May 2010

By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

May 21 - The road cycling race at the 2012 Olympics will start in Westminster and travel through South West London before heading out to the Surrey Hills and then back again to finish in Buckingham Palace on a course that could favour Britain's Mark Cavendish (pictured), it has been reported.

As insidethegames reported last September, world governing body UCI had asked London 2012 to change its original  proposed course to make it more attractive to a global television audience.

The redesigned route will head from London into and cross the Thames river at Putney, Cycling Weekly has reported.

From there, the riders will travel through Richmond and Bushy Parks, including passing Hampton Court Palace, before crossing the M25 at Leatherhead and then face possibly more than one ascent of Box Hill.

From there, it is through Headley and down to Dorking, then west along the A25 and up the steep Combe Lane in Shere before heading back towards London, taking in Byfleet, Weybridge, Bushy Park and Richmond Park.

The riders will then complete a 12.5km circuit of Westminster, Chelsea and Fulham before finishing on the Mall with Buckingham Palace as the stunning backdrop, Cycling Weekly reported.

The route totals around 138 kilometres, which is expected to be the distance for the women's race where Britain's Nicole Cooke will be defending the title she won at Beijing in 2008.

The men's route is likely to be modified to include more than one circuit of Box Hill, and up to six loops of the 12.5km finishing circuit in Central London, making a total distance of around 253km.

The Mall was the finish of the prologue when the Tour de France started in London in 2007 when Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara (pictured) beat Britain's Bradley Wiggins.

The original route was due start and finish in Regent's Park, on a circuit taking in Highgate West Hill, around Hampstead Heath and back down through Kentish Town and Primrose Hill, with the men's race due to complete 14 laps.

But the UCI wanted the course to rival the one used for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing which started in Tiananmen Square and finished on the Great Wall of China, one of the eight wonders of the world.

Early plans discussed included the possibility of travelling out to Berkshire and visiting Windsor Castle.

These have now been shelved.

The new route will include only 1,500 metres of vertical ascent, according to Cycling Weekly's calculations, which will favour a sprinter like Cavendish, winner of a record 10 stages in the Tour de France.

A spokeswoman for London 2012 told insidethegames: "We are still working on the detailed route.

"We are consulting with the many organisations involved and we hope to make an announcement with the UCI in a few weeks time."

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