How the Prudential RideLondon went from a bold idea to reality

Cyclists will take over the streets of London and Surrey this weekend for Britain’s biggest ever cycling event, the Prudential RideLondon.

Over 70,000 people are expected to take part in the two-day festival, which forms part of the London 2012 legacy.

The scale of the event is unprecedented in this country; below Cycling Weekly looks at how Britain’s biggest-ever cycling event came into fruition ahead of the inaugural edition.

April 5, 2011
“Boris Johnson wants to host cycling marathon in London
The Mayor’s plans to put on the “London Marathon on wheels” in 2013 and beyond are revealed. There are four routes and options on the table, varying between 60 and 120 kilometres long – they included replicating the 2012 Olympic road race courses, a London-centric route that started on The Mall and finished in the Olympic Park after travelling through 20 boroughs, an Olympic Park start and finish via central London and Essex and a Greenwich to Kent leg (similar the opening stage of the 2007 Tour de France) before a central London finish.

January 26, 2012
London to host cycling festival in 2013

To coincide with a speech from Boris Johnson to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, stakeholders from the Mayor’s office, British Cycling, Transport for London and the Olympic Park Legacy Company announce plans for a two-day festival of cycling for August 2013 at a press conference in London. Details were sketchy, but the ideas were big, most notably a fully-closed road sportive and elite men’s race. An “iconic finish” is planned, with The Mall, the Olympic Park and Hyde Park in contention. A WorldTour ranking for the latter (which would rank it alongside the top races) is touted, but the UCI confirm to Cycling Weekly that such a status is “impossible” for 2013. CW also reveals that the provisional date for the event is August 10 and 11; this is later brought forward a week. 

An outline of the proposals was released in this document.

March 11
Cape Argus Pick ‘n’ Pay Cycle Tour
Representatives from the event’s stakeholders – including British Cycling’s Cycle Sport & Membership Director Jonny Clay – attend the Cape Argus, the world’s largest individually-timed cycling event, in South Africa. The Argus is notable for having the elite and amateur cyclists start together, unlike what will happen on Sunday in London.

March 29
Tender process candidates announced
The six shortlisted candidates to run the legacy event are revealed. Tour de France organiser ASO is among them, as is a partnership between Tour of Britain organiser SweetSpot and the London Marathon (under the guise of the London & Surrey Cycling Partnership).

August 10
RideLondon Olympic cycling legacy event launched
The London & Surrey Cycling Partnership are announced as the successful delivery partner (organiser) on the third to last day of competition at London 2012 by Boris Johnson. The name RideLondon is revealed, the BBC are confirmed as the event’s broadcaster partner for five years, expressions of interest for the 20,000 RideLondon 100 sportive are opened online and FreeCycle event is confirmed as replacing the capital’s annual SkyRide. CW predicts the pro race will receive a 1.1 ranking from the UCI, which would put it on a par with Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Strade Bianche. The route is not revealed, but CW learns that it will be similar to the Olympic road race courses. Recently-crowned double Olympic champion Laura Trott is on hand to pose for pictures with Boris Johnson, who predicts RideLondon will be “the greatest cycle weekend in the world in what is fast becoming the greatest cycling city on earth”. 

Goodbye SkyRide, hello RideLondon FreeCycle

September 25
25,000 register for the RideLondon 100
Boosted by Bradley Wiggins’ Tour de France win and the Olympic success, registrations of interest for the 100 pass 25,000 – 5,000 more than there are spaces for the event. On January 3, 2013,organisers reveal demand is up to 50,000.

February 7, 2013
Prudential sponsorship and route details announced
Having backed the short-lived PruTour stage race in 1998 and 1999, Prudential’s return to top-level cycling sponsorship is confirmed. Organisers confirm the elite race has been awarded a 1.1 ranking, and announce that the route will include three laps of a circuit around Leith Hill and that the finish on The Mall will see riders heading towards Buckingham Palace, as opposed to away from it, as was the case for the London 2012 road races. Trott and “BoJo” are once again on hand to pose for pictures.

Boris Johnson and Laura Trott pose for the cameras.

May 5
Operation Chiselled Whippet
Writing in his Daily Telegraph column, Boris Johnson confirms he will be riding the 100. “You must be mad, my team tell me. You’ll never make it, they say – and I look into their eyes and I know what they are thinking. They think I am just too fat and clapped-out to cycle 100 miles. They think I will cark it on Box Hill in scenes of mass hilarity. Well, folks, I don’t know about you, but the more people discourage me, the more determined I am to have a crack,” he wrote.

May 16
“Train tip” for RideLondon
Cycling Weekly reveals that train companies will not be providing extra provision for participants of the RideLondon 100. Details for courier service and drop-off/park-and-cycle schemes put on by organisers to help riders get to the start and from the finish begin to emerge.

May 30
RideLondon 100 route confirmed
“The route profile shows exactly how testing this challenge will be,” said event director Hugh Brasher in relation to the 100 route, which was confirmed at the end of May. As predicted, it varies slightly from the elite race, most notably at the start and does not include laps of the Leith Hill circuit.

July 4
WorldTour teams confirmed for RideLondon Classic
Eight squads competing in the Tour de France – including Sky, Garmin-Sharp, Cannondale and Orica-GreenEdge – were announced for RideLondon. All six British UCI Continental teams and a Great Britain squad are also included. 

June 25
London road closures announced
The Evening Standard warned of “traffic chaos” after Transport for London announced that 11 bridges across the Thames (Tower, Southwark, Westminster, Lambeth, Vauxhall , Chelsea, Albert, Putney, Chiswick, Kingston and Hampton Court) will be shut on the day of the RideLondon 100 and Classic.

July 18
Hannah Barnes and Orica-AIS join Wiggle-Honda on RideLondon GP startlist
The British criterium champion and the dominant female rider of 2013 Hannah Barnes is added to the RideLondon GP startlist, where she will join Wiggle-Honda’s Olympic champions Trott, Joanna Rowsell and Dani King. Like their male counterparts, the Australian Orica-AIS squad’s attendance is also confirmed. The full startlist can be found here.

Hannah Barnes: London bound

July 19
Milan-San Remo winner Gerald Ciolek confirmed for RideLondon
It was easy to miss given the news was announced during the closing part of a Tour de France Alpine stage, but MTN-Qhubeka’s Gerald Ciolek was the star attraction as 15 team line-ups for the RL Classic were announced. Scott Thwaites (NetApp-Endura), Premier Calendar winner Evan Oliphant (Raleigh) and world points race champion Simon Yates (Great Britain) were also confirmed to compete.

July 22
Peter Sagan to start RideLondon
Hours after becoming the first rider ever to win the Tour de France green jersey twice in his first two Tour starts, Cannondale’s Peter Sagan was confirmed for RideLondon. Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge), Ben Swift (Sky) and David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) were all also announced to ride. The full startlist can be found here.

July 23
New road surfaces in Surrey cause problems for cyclists ahead of RideLondon
While Surrey County Council should be applauded for spending money on resurfacing roads used on the RideLondon course, the decision to use the controversial “surface dressing” method was baffling. CW was contacted by several people who had crashed, punctured and even had sunglasses crack because of it.

July 26
BBC and Eurosport TV schedule confirmed
The BBC initially stated it would show three hours of live coverage of the RideLondon Classic when it was confirmed as the official broadcaster of the event. However, listings revealed that its extensive coverage would include the elite race in its entirety, a 45-minute edit of the women’s Grand Prix and action from the mass-participation event. 

July 31
“I’ll be happy to complete the Prudential RideLondon 100 in under 12 hours”
Mayor of London Boris Johnson tells media that he will be satisfied if he completes the sportive in under 12 hours. Nobody has the heart to tell him that, because of the time limit of the event, he has 11 hours and six minutes to complete the course.

Related links
Prudential RideLondon: How the British teams are preparing
How the Prudential RideLondon went from bold idea to reality

RideLondon-Surrey Classic provisional start list
WorldTour teams for RideLondon-Surrey Classic
Sam Harrison aiming to make impression at RideLondon-Surrey Classic
Peter Sagan to start RideLondon-Surrey race
Prudential RideLondon details announced
50,000 register for RideLondon cycle challenge


Upcoming events