The Italian women’s road team came to the UK today to ride the Olympic road race route in Surrey, only to get turned away at the bottom of Box Hill.

Six riders, their coach and current world champion Giorgia Bronzini (who wasn’t riding) had travelled over especially to ride Box Hill, but when they got to the Olympic parcours’ crucial section, they weren’t allowed up.

Resurfacing work is still ongoing on the 2.5km climb. It was due to be completed yesterday but a workman told local cyclist Dave Kennett that they were now hoping to be finished by the end of the week, but that depended on the weather.

The Italian team coach tried in vain to get his riders past the work force, saying they had spent €10,000 on travelling over to specifically ride the climb, but they couldn’t get through. “There are other hills” came the reply from the workman.

With no test event for the female pros, their only chance to ride the climb has come in training. Several riders have been seen riding the route already this spring, and that is set to continue once the resurfacing works are complete.

The Italians eventually gave in and turned and rode back down to the A24 before turning right up towards Leatherhead and then Headley. But that wasn’t the end of their troubles.

No doubt worried about the lack of courtesy shown to cyclists on the roads in the south east, the riders’ coach drove behind the group. Eventually the Police saw the traffic building up behind the minibus, pulled him over and instructed him to drive on ahead and wait.

The German men’s team is supposed to be visiting Box Hill tomorrow for their recce of the climb and could also leave disappointed. Team GB couldn’t have planned it better if they’d tried.

The Italian women checking out part of the Olympic route. Picture courtesy of Dave Kennett

Resurfacing works are still ongoing due to the recent bad weather. Picture courtesy of Dave Kennett

A lovely bit of brand new tarmac at the bottom of Box Hill. Picture courtesy of Dave Kennett

  • Dale Martin

    I was working on Zig zag hill on the days in question if fact my roller is in the 2nd photo ( the white won}Tarmac can not be laid in the wet as it wont stick to the lower road level and then it cracks up. Due to health and safety we cant let people past our machines as a road roller can make a nasty mess. We try to do a good job and we had some good coments about the surface from riders that did come up.
    I m sure team GB had no problems Good luck

  • Aaron

    Who are you calling humourless bunting boy?

  • Ted Jackson

    When I rode the entire route of the TDF in 2006, many of the roads were closed…..we hopped the barrier and trudged through hot tarmac and mud! As for anyone thinking the final comment wasn’t needed…….that’s the problem with most club cyclists…..a bunch of humourless morons. Get a life and lighten up.

  • richard

    I bet they’ve resurfaced over the Germans’ towels

  • Aaron

    Anyone know what the current state of play is? Have they finihsed?

  • Karl

    Not really the workers fault. Agree with Sarah Soden, the teams should have found out – it’s pretty easy. It totally poured down here last week so there was nothing they could have done to finish it quicker.

  • leroche

    All credit to Mr Kennett’s photography skills. I reckon he got the best side of the four female Italian pro cyclists.

  • Ealing DopePedaller
  • Sarah Soden

    0/10 for the Italian management for not finding out if the road was clear and presumably Mr Kennett isn’t much of a sports photographer, hardly a great effort to get a team shot!

  • Derek

    Weak management they should have bought and wore GB kit

  • Crispin Heath

    Oh come on. They scheduled this for the day after it was due to finish. I know these teams are on tight schedules, but I’d put it down to bad planning on the part of the Italian and now the German teams that they didn’t build contingency for this type of eventuality. The most important thing is that the roads are ready at the end of July. Given the weather we’ve had recently having it a few days late really isn’t a big issue as far as I’m concerned.

  • JasonS

    It would have been more embarrassing letting them cycle up Box Hill before the new surface, with a state the road surfaces are in! They will probably need new wheels by the end of the week!!

  • Jon

    I thought everyone knows Team GB’s entire strategy relies on preventing rivals from accessing Box Hill or the velodrome, then changing all the signposts in a whacky races fashion on the day.

  • John

    I think it is relatively humorous that a foreign national team regard the roads as so unsafe in Britain that they need to provide an escort vehicle to ensure that their athletes are not harmed on UK soil. Welcome to the land of tolerance and resposible driving.

  • steve macdonald

    if this is an ongoing problem,then the powers that be should pull out all the stops to make sure our guests get a decent practice run prior to the race though im sure team gb would be most unhappy about that

  • Guy

    Heaven knows what will happen when the Germans turn up..

  • Geoff Waters, Durban, South Africa

    I am now convinced that British men are mad! Who else would ‘turn away Italian women’ (your headline)? It must be all the rice pudding.

  • Will

    To be fair the weather has been pretty atrocious lately. I don’t envy the guys resurfacing the road!

  • Bradders

    Bit early to be resurfacing it anyway. The phone/electric/gas companies will have all had to dig it up before July.

  • Pete

    ‘Not really a joking matter’?

    I thought this story was hilarious. Lighten up, folks

  • Jo

    @Steve F It’s called humour.

  • JD

    It’s nobody’s fault but it still pretty embarrassing. Cock up on the road surfacing front.

  • Lee

    I too find the final sentance uncalled for. To be honest it is totally embaressing that that happened.

  • Ken Evans

    “….the lack of courtesy shown to cyclists on the roads….”

    Welcome to Britain !

  • Colnasgo dave

    Surely as cyclists we are used to the fact that your average road surfacing worker rules the roost

  • neil duerden

    Thumbs down for CW regarding this report-not really a joking matter& this just gives a bad impression of the UK.


  • Steve F

    I think the final unsporting sentence was uncalled for.

  • Tim Senior

    …. add to this that they will probably have been held up at passport control and had to suffer inferior and overpriced pasta & coffee etc….. they are probably glad they came !

  • DLP

    As Dave ‘Hannibal’ Brailsford always says: “I love it when a plan comes together”