Thousands of cyclists, professional and amateur, will take over the capital’s streets this weekend for the second Prudential RideLondon.
After a successful inaugural edition 12 months ago, the capital’s Olympic legacy cycling event looks set to be even bigger for his year.
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The headline feature will be Sunday’s Classic, a 200-kilometre professional men’s race that starts at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, and finishes on The Mall after largely retracting the route for the London 2012 road races.
It will be run under the hors catégorie ranking, the second most prestigious for any event in the UCI’s calendar. The field will include Bradley Wiggins, who was added to Sky’s six-man team on Thursday morning.
Immediately preceding the Classic is the 100 mass participation event, which this year will see nearly 25,000 riders tackle the majority of the course that the professionals will through London and Surrey. It is Britain’s biggest, fully-closed road sportive, and organisers hope those competing in the 100-mile (160km) event will raise £12m for charity.
Saturday will see 50,000 people converge on the capital for the event’s FreeCycle, during which they can cycle on a 10-mile, traffic-free route that takes in a number of London’s most iconic sights.
The Women’s Grand Prix, centered around The Mall, follows that evening. Defending champion Laura Trott (Wiggle-Honda) will be in action, but much attention will be paid to Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) and Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans). Two years on from their memorable duel in the Olympic Games, the pair are likely to contest for victory here.
Timetable of events
Saturday August 9
9am-4pm: FreeCycle – a family orientated ride around a 10-mile, closed road circuit in the capital.
5-6pm: Women’s Grand Prix – the leading lights of the female peloton battle it out for victory on the St James’s Park criterium course. Laura Trott (Wiggle-Honda) won last year.
Sunday August 10
6-8.30am: Riders begin the RideLondon 100 from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a fully-closed road sportive through London and Surrey, which largely retraces the route of the London 2012 road races.
10.15am: First riders in the 100 expected to reach the finish on The Mall.
1pm: Start of the elite men’s race, the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic, which also begins at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
5:47pm: Scheduled finish time for the Classic. Frenchman Arnaud Démare (FDJ.fr) took the glory 12 months ago.
Riders to Watch
Ben Swift (Sky)
Now 26, the young British sprinter is enjoying his best season to date, with a surprise third place finish at Milan San-Remo and an impressive stage win at the Tour of the Basque Country. As a sprinter who can climb, Swift looks ideally suited to this year’s updated route.
Philippe Gilbert (BMC)
Gilbert is the race’s blockbuster name, and will feel at home in the steep hills of Surrey. Having skipped the Tour his form is a bit of a mystery, but if his legs are good he’ll put the other riders under pressure when the road goes uphill.
Elia Viviani (Cannondale)
The Italian is perhaps the quickest sprinter on the startlist, but faces a challenge to make it over the hills.
Sam Bennett (NetApp-Endura)
The 23-year old Irishman is enjoying a breakthrough season, and is an outside bet for the win should the race finish in a bunch sprint.
Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv)
Last month, the Dutch world champion won the inaugural edition of La Course on the Champs-Élysées. What price she adds another victory on one of London’s most iconic streets – The Mall – to her palmarès in the Women’s Grand Prix?
Laura Trott (Wiggle-Honda)
The double Olympic champion was the fastest finishers on the two-kilometre course during last year’s GP, and her form in the Commonwealth Games points race suggests she will likely be in contention for the victory again.
RideLondon 100 and Classic: the key sections
As the first climb of the day in the Classic (the 100 skips this), the second-category Staple Lane won’t play a decisive role in the race, but offers spectators great views from the top, and riders a sight of the Surrey countryside.
For the second year in succession, this climb features in both the 100 and the Classic. The amateurs approach it as part of an anti-clockwise loop through Holmbury St Mary, which is arguably harder than the clockwise circuit the professionals will embark upon from Dorking. This was climbed thrice in the race last year – it appears only once in 2014.
Two proposed ascents of a steep, narrow hill through the Denbies Wine Estate that were included in an attempt to make the pro race harder were recently removed from the Classic course. Instead riders will climb up the North Downs to the summit of Ranmore Common twice. While only a couple of kilometres long, it ramps up to 15 per cent in places.
Wimbledon Hill Road
The hardest part of the run in in both the 100 and the Classic is the energy-sapping rise to Wimbledon Village. Handily for those amateurs needing a boost, there is an feed station shortly after.
What better way to start the final three kilometres of any cycling event than by passing parallel with the River Thames and heading towards the iconic sights of Wesminster? If a sprint finish in the Classic looks on the cards, this will be a great viewing spot to catch teams jostling for position in the peloton.
RideLondon 100: Essential information for participants
All participants will start the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 between 6 and 8.30am, and are advised to arrive at their designated start area in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at least one hour before their start time. Directions to the various start areas will be signposted at each official car park and drop-off locations. Travelling by car to the start is not advised.
There will be three Hubs along the route for those requiring basic mechanical assistance (Hampton Court Green, Newlands Corner, Leaterhead). These sites will also offer food, drink and toilet facilities, services which can be found at seven other sites along the route.
Riders must finish the course within eight and a half hours in order to finish safely in advance of the RideLondon-Surrey Classic.
Bicycles will be limited on trains out of London on the day. For those wishing to make their way back to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park via public transport, a bicycle transport system will run from 11am to 7pm. A river boat service will run from Blackfriars Pier to Canary Wharf, North Greenwich and Trinity Buoy Wharf Pier, all of which are a short ride away from official participants’ car parks.
RideLondon Women’s Grand Prix, Saturday August 9
BBC Two, 5-6pm LIVE
Eurosport, 5-6pm LIVE
Eurosport, 1-1.45pm (August 10) Highlights
RideLondon 100 and Classic, Sunday August 10
BBC One, 2-6.35pm LIVE
Eurosport, 1.45-6.30pm LIVE
Eurosport, 10-11.30pm Highlights
Prudential RideLondon 100 (click to enlarge)
Prudential RideLondon Classic (click to enlarge – for a provisional time schedule for the Classic elite race, click here.)
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