Box Hill is preparing for the London-Surrey Cycle Classic this Sunday, erecting fences and crowd barriers. The focal point of the race is being shut off to all but 3,000 spectators after fears of the ecological sensitivity of the area were raised.

The problem for the organisers is the access to the SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) area, run by the National Trust, has multiple access points.

To overcome this they have had a team of workers erecting fences along the woodland borders through which people could access the grassland that offers such a perfect vantage point.

The 3,000 people issued with wristbands will be located on the slope above the first hairpin where they should get a good view of that section of the road. Unfortunately for the riders, spectators and television, the vast majority of the climb will be left void of specators and therefore atmosphere.

box hill, barriers, fences, olympic test event, 2011

Above and below – Six foot high fences line the woodland borders to stop people getting through the trees and on to the grassy banks. The land here is chalkland and can be slippery when wet and where plants live on shallow roots that are easily disturbed. Orchids also grow here and the grassland in general around Box Hill is rife with hundreds of species of insects.

box hill

box hill, barriers, fences, olympic test event, 2011

box hill, barriers, fences, olympic test event, 2011

box hill, barriers, fences, olympic test event, 2011

Normal crowd control barriers are a common site at bike races. These ones line the road where it flattens out over the topof the climb. This is the Box Hill view point that looks directly south over Dorking and beyond. This area, always busy on a sunny weekend, is also restricted for the road race.

box hill, barriers, fences, olympic test event, 2011

No surprises that the National Trust car parks at the top of Box Hill were closed today. A crane has been in place behind the cafe at the top of the hill for several weeks from where static images will be filmed during the race.

box hill, barriers, fences, olympic test event, 2011

Above and below – Australia’s Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) was out training on Box Hill this morning, on his time trial bike. The car he is following is his support car. That didn’t stop him nearly going in to the back of it when it slowed down for one of the many speed bumps on the road.

box hill, barriers, fences, olympic test event, 2011

box hill, barriers, fences, olympic test event, 2011
Team Sky’s Michael Rogers was also out training on the hill on his TT bike with a Team Sky car in support. 

box hill, barriers, fences, olympic test event, 2011

Related links

Stars line up for Olympic road race test event

Box Hill declared limited access for Olympic road race

  • Justin

    Blimey, for people who choose an environmentally friendly form of transport you get mighty uppity when your favourite hill is out of bounds (for GOOD reasons)!

    I easily watched the riders in town in the morning yesterday and then spent the afternoon mountain biking in the Surrey hills. Getting around and watching the race wasn’t any problem at all. All it took was planning and digesting the plentiful information which was provided.

    Box Hill has probably been chosen because of its aesthetic qualities (as with much else along the route) and also its stature in the local cycling community. You should be happy that these guys are sharing your home turf and next time you ride up the hill you’ll be happy that those guys were there before you.

    Stop whinging, get with the 21st century (where the environment matters, and will become ever more important) and find your own spot to watch the race – there’s plenty of other kms where you can easily do so.

  • Paul Gryuson

    I drove round the course the day before the race to get an idear of where to spectate on the day , and all we could see were miles of fences bloking the public from seeing the race unless you,ve paid for one of those lucky 3,000 tickets for the section of road on Box Hill your wasting your time .
    So look’s like we wont be going !!
    And also where’s the T V coverage , havnt found it on any channels !! I guess another National Trust lock down .

  • Steve

    ”Obviously most people commenting here have not attended any of the meetings held by local authorties and LOGOC in which the various restrictions were highighted and explained” Scott, you are right, most Cycling Weekly readers wern’t at any of the LA/LOGOC meetings. That would be physically impossible. So are you trying to say that the NT are restricting access for a ‘warm-up’ event but on the day when perhaps 10 times as many people will be there they will say ‘you’re welcome, come and trample at will’? You have missunderstood, these restrictions will not be laspsed when vastly more people will be there, that would be utterly non-sensical. We need a different route, this is a complete farce by typical British standards. Bloody cyclists.

  • mikejubb

    bigger picture is that this IS a site of special interest and will be long after we are all gone- if you really want to experience the area from abike perspective – try riding it- you may the appreciate why its worth preserving.

  • Nigel Ker

    Yes! It’s a resounding victory for the mindless beaurocrats and all those who want to spoil a good day out. They have managed to find what is undoubtedly the best place to watch the Surrey Cycle Classic – a wonderful natural amphitheatre which overlooks the route – and fence it all off so that virtually no one can use it. (I took a look at the ‘wristband area’ this evening and the views from this spot are hopeless. If this area is so special, why are we allowed to use the area as we wish the rest of the time? There are thousands of acres of NT grassland on the Boxhill estate and I simply don’t believe that any species will be wiped out just because a few people want to sit there for an hour or two. You can bet that this wouldn’t happen in France!!!

  • david

    Oh Yeah almost forgot Don’t you think its time that the NT was reminded that the land they manage they do for the people of this country, not for themselves. As for Box Hill it self it’s not exactly pristine countryside, usually on a weekend its just an endless stream of cars in both directions who think cycling is for weirdos, bit like Scott.

  • david

    Surrey doesn’t want cycling or the Olympics – If the NT are so concerned with the environment then maybe they could stop all these lorries and cars turning up with fencing.

  • Neil

    Ken, it’s really not about fixing the event just so Cav can win.
    The point is that the organisers clearly want a hill, or hill’s, in the route to test the riders. What we’re saying is that there are plenty better suited areas, be it North or South, where they could have easily have achieved this aim and had great spectator presence.
    Of course if you just want a guaranteed Cav win then why don’t you petition for a 200km flat circuit race around London itself.
    I think Cav has proved he’s capable of dealing with certain types of climbs in any case, and I hope he wins regardless. But mire than anything we want a good race with atmosphere.


    I live in Horsham and Southern aren’t even running any trains up to Dorking. Roads close at 6.30am, so how are people from the South supposed to see the race?
    The organisation is extremely poor for spectators and to have no live TV coverage is an insult to cycling fans.

  • ed

    well no live coverage,funny how the bbc managed it for the triathlon last weekend but cycling no we cant be bothered. and box hill needs to be removed and a decent parcours put in place for the fans. having tried o get tickets for cycling events so far the london olympics is a complete joke (for cycling fans)

  • Denny Gray

    I agree with the sentiment here completely.

    Could Cycling Weekly draft a letter that we all send to our MPs? I think this needs national attention as it will be a national embarrasment if spectators are denied the opportunity to view the race.

    I like the suggestion to bring in a few laps of Richmond Park. And a Leith Hill/White Down combination would make a much better, more testing route once onto the North Downs where hopefully spectators would actually be allowed access.

  • Ken Evans

    “Bring the races up to Yorkshire
    where we’ll show them some real hills….”

    Cav isn’t the worlds best climber,
    and a sprint finish might be more exciting,
    or do you want Contador to win ?

  • Paul Tuohy

    I’m planning to go on Sunday – just seen your article though…. The NT appear to have won – i love butterfly’s and insects but please..!! Its beyond words. It looks like a prison camp… I think there will be tumble weed blowing on Sunday….

  • Neil

    Couldn’t agree more Wigton. I live in the Peak District, not far from Yorkshire and cannot quite comprehend the obsession with having the Olympic Road Race based from London itself. As someone else pointed out, the sailors will not be competing on the Thames!
    Don’t wish to churn up a ‘my area is better than yours debate’ as i’m not familiar with the Surrey hills, but it appears that the organisers have struggled to plot a route that will really test the riders.
    If they had brought the race north they would have had no such trouble finding hills to test the very best, and we wouldn’t have this absolutely ridiculous situation of almost no spectators being allowed to watch the crucail area of te race where the selections will be made.
    I was SO looking forward to spending the day watching the Olympic Road race on home soil next year ( a once in a lifetime chance) and the organisers have absolutely wrecked it for everyone. It’s an absolute disgrace.
    Cycling Weekly – Can we not organise a petition to submit to the reevant authorities? We need to show the depth of feeling on this matter.

  • L.Wingate

    How bloody ridiculous…. this is potentially the best part of the whole course, where the spectators get to see the riders not doing 30mph. There will be no atmosphere…. guessing the organisers actually got a clue what cycling is all about or how to create an atmosphere that the fans and riders alike will enjoy…… surely all these fences will create a sterile/non-atmpshere like Beijing….. crazy!!!

  • lee askew

    I have been riding box hill since the age of 13, I have grown up riding the route of the race and now entering my 39th year the Olympics are coming, my sport is coming to my backyard,I find it total humiliation that box hill is a ticketed area, for what VIP’s that don’t really care about the sport truly , what’s next a little man at the bottom of alpe d’huez saying 10 euros to view,its the same, its rubbish total rubbish

    Im lucky enough to live in Walton on Thames so there will be a bit of Zig Zag riding going on to see as much as possible

  • Phil O’Connor

    Forget Box Hill all together, when the route returns to Richmond Park it should do several laps there of the 6 miles circuit, a darn sight more than 3500 people will be able to view it and it is somewhere that can be accessed by public transport from many different angles.

  • Scott

    Obviously most people commenting here have not attended any of the meetings held by local authorties and LOGOC in which the various restrictions were highighted and explained. If they had, then they would know that the restrictions in place for the TEST event this weekend are not the same as those that will be in place for the actual road race next year.

    This just further reinforces my opinion that the vast majority of cyclists, and cycling enthuiasts, are unable to think outside of their own community. I defy any cyclist to explain to me what “Cyclists Dismount” actually means.

    I live at the foot of Boxhill and I am directly affected by this race, and I have to be honest, I wish the race route was different too. Only my reasons are completely different.

  • arthur franks

    Please please cycling weekly, start a cammpaign to get this debacle sorted out, and let them find a course that is spectator friendly

  • Wigton Fox

    Having missed out on all the Olympic cycling tickets available, I like many friends, was going to head down to Box Hill for the road races. Having read about these fences it seems to be yet another significant oversight by the Olympic organising committee. Bring the races up to Yorkshire where we’ll show them some real hills with plenty of spectator space and welcoming hospitality.

  • Mike Cross

    I wonder if the organisers advised the IOC that this iconic part of the course would be in fact denied to spectators seeking to exercise their option of “free and welcome to watch anywhere along the route” when they toured the course after refusing the London-centric original. Let us hope that sufficient IOC officials are on the race this Sunday to see for themselves the empty road and hear the deafening silence while climbing this should-be showpiece of the event. Not what they need when they are at pains to boost the sport under the seeming ever-present clouds besetting it at the moment.
    It will be interesting in 2012 when the authorities are faced with a horde of continental camper vans arriving in the week before the race proper and setting up around the whole of the circuit; there are probably not enough tow-away trucks available in south England to cope with them.
    On the subject of television coverage, I hope that the BBC have sent their production teams over to the continent to see how it should be done.


    Only in Britain……..don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Typical British Blazeritis strikes again.

  • R.Smith

    My wife and I are the two people shown in the photo of the Box Hill view point,what you can’t see is the disappointment on our faces.
    There are so many restrictions around the course and no efforts have been made to organize authorized car park and access to the top part of the hill.

    This is going to be a non-event,what will the rest of the world be thinking in 2012 when they see such an important event devoid of the excitement it deserves.

    Not a great advertisment!!!

  • Peter

    Well if the BBC are to show highlights, that will only further the impression that it was little more than a novelty event for “endurance athletes”. (That’s a BBC euphemism for “the world’s top pro cyclists”).

    In all seriousness, I applaud CW’s stance on this debacle. Something needs to be done to re-route the Olympic RR parcours as swiftly as possible. I can’t help wondering if the problem originated from somebody’s total underestimation of the sheer number of specators that will come out to see the 2 Road Races. It’s free, it will attract the very best riders in the world – and cycling’s popularity is at an all time high in the UK. Add to all the fans that will make the trip over from Europe….. there need to be other focal points to watch the race. Box Hill should never have even been sugggested.

  • EnnBee

    Highlights will be shown on the BBC next weekend during a special programme looking at the test event. No live coverage.

  • Mike R

    Every footpath in the area now has a sign on it saying it will be closed on August 14 – the area is in complete lock down this weekend! I’d love to watch the race, but it doesn’t seem like I’m going to be able to. Thanks LOCOG

  • Mick W

    Boycott Box Hill altogether, and send the organisers the message that they should choose another route for 2012……one that we can all spectate on !

  • Paul Smith

    I don’t think the LOCOG have listened to a word that has been said by cycling fans.
    Go to the and look at the Spectator information. Here you will read the following: “The London-Surrey Cycle Classic is a free event, and spectators are welcome to watch anywhere along the 140km route.”
    Who put those fences there? Surely not the LOCOG.
    What a farce.



  • Alan

    OMG this is getting really stupid now, erecting those fences is just causing more harm thean the public accessing the area.. (What on earth is there problem)..

    This is a sport for all event, Only in our own country would this happen, Nature does more harm than people, For Example, Heavy Rain, Heavy fierce wind, And not Forgetting SNOW….

    I would rather see them abandon Boxhill and go for another area around surrey, like leith hill etc, plenty of other good hills on route.

    I ofte train around this area from Crawley, travelling through charlwood Betchworth etc, to cycle box hill area and other areas I would liketo see how they police it…

  • Ken Evans

    I hope the coverage in Cycling Weekly,
    of the actual race,
    will be better than the preview of the race !

    (The most imporatant single day race in Britain, in 2011)

    There are many other places people can watch the race,
    apart from just Box Hill.