Mayor of London Boris Johnson says he will be happy to complete the Prudential RideLondon 100 in under 12 hours - and that the event will help the capital become a "paradise for cycling".
The Mayor addressed the media at City Hall this morning, and admitted that despite having recced the climbs of Leith Hill and Box Hill, his training for the 100-mile mass participation event has been limited in recent weeks.
"I want to manage expectations. I'm fairly certain I can do it, I'm just not certain how quickly how I can do it," said the Mayor.
"I tend to ride at the speed of an elderly French onion seller. I'm a pretty cautious London cyclist. I've looked at the course and done bits of it. If I can do it in under 12 hours I'll be very pleased."
Having previously labelled his attempts to get fitter for the event as "Operation Chiselled Whippet,' Mr Johnson added: "The chiselled whippet is yet to emerge. The whippet is in there somewhere, but he's yet to be revealed by the sculptor."
"Flicking the switch" towards cycle safety
The Mayor added that he believes there is a link between staging high-profile cycling events in the capital and making travelling on two wheels safer for those who do so.
"This event shows how determined we are to make cycling a part of life in London," he said. "We want to turn this city into a functioning cycling city, a paradise for cycling. We've seen huge progress, we've seen a huge increase in cycling. The trouble is, we need to make it safer.
"We want to get people on their bikes when they're using cars for insanely short journeys. We want to encourage greater confidence in people and develop a nicer attitude among road users. I had a taxi driver confront me the other day, and he said that I didn't care about them and that having cyclists on the road was like swimming with sharks. That shows the emotion attached to having cyclists on the roads.
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"I'm a huge admirer of what goes on in Holland, and I've been to many European cities where people have a greater consideration for cyclists. Unless we start programmes of interventions - like the £931m we're spending on cycling - then we won't flick the switch in people's minds.
"I keep going on about Berlin because I went there the other week. We hired bikes, and we saw whole families wobbling around the roads. We need to get that."
Mr Johnson also addressed claims that the event will cause widespread travel chaos, and that a 6am start for the 100 was too early for participants.
"I think it is another great sporting event for our city, our capital and Britain. It helps put London on the map as the greatest cycling on earth. I do apologise for the inconvenience people suffer. I don't think you can fault us for giving people advance notice, and I hope people turn out and enjoy the day."
On the later point, he said: "Maybe we'll be able to sandpaper for next time and get even better. There's a huge amount to fit on in one day, and we wanted to get on as much as we could. I think a huge number of people made arrangements in advance to get to the start, as that's the best way to do it this time around."
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