By Mike Rowbottom
The London 2012 Olympic triathlon will see the bike ride exit the main competitive area of Hyde Park to pass through locations which will "showcase the city", one of the sport’s top administrator’s maintained today at the official announcement of the capital’s Dextro Energy World Championships Series event, which will take place on August 15-16.
Paul Coleman, the Series director, acknowledged that the second stage of the Olympic triathlon would stray well beyond the confines of Hyde Park three years from now, although he added that highlighting the city’s attractions would have to be balanced with considerations for the athletes involved.
"Showcasing the city is high on our list of priorities," Coleman said, "But we also have to produce a challenging course for the athletes.
"The Olympic course is still a matter of discussion, but final approval is with the International Triathlon Union and LOCOG."
When the sixth leg of the new Formula 1-style World Championships Series arrives in London this summer – en route to a Grand Final on Australia’s Gold Coast in September – the event will be confined to Hyde Park, although competitors including Britain’s world champion Helen Jenkins will be able to get the feel of at least one part of the Olympic course as they swim 1500 metres in The Serpentine before setting off on a 40 kilometres bike ride and a 10km run.
"We are obviously developing in 2009 and hopefully we’ll be able to have slightly different courses in 2010 and 2011,"Coleman added.
But event organiser Will Glendenning insisted that the World Series races in London would be effectively confined to Hyde Park barracks before Olympic year.
"Access will be very different in 2012, but you can’t just shut everything down and expect Londoners to be happy with the situation every year. I know the London marathon manages it, but they have been in the national psyche for almost 30 years."
Organisers believe this year’s London event – which will see elite competitors competing on August 15 and an entry of 2,100 triathletes taking place in a mass participation event over the same course on the next day could attract crowds of 250,000 - rivalling the number that turned out for the Tour de France last year.
"Off the back of the London 2012 Olympics we're looking to attract as many major events to the capital as possible," said Mayor of London's office marketing director Dan Ritterband.