Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert of the Belgian national team were out on Box Hill, Surrey, on Wednesday to ride the London 2012 Olympic Games road race course ahead of Saturday’s men’s event.
Boonen and Gilbert looked relaxed ahead of the opening cycling event of the 2012 Games. Boonen was sporting one of Specialized’s bright orange Venge road bikes, which will be given to all of Specialized’s sponsored riders during the Games.
Nine laps of the Box Hill loop will be completed by the men’s road race after starting in The Mall in London. The famous Box Hill zig-zag road will undoubtedly serve as a launchpad for riders hoping to form an escape.
However, an attack on Box Hill will have to come with some commitment as any escapees have to keep the bunch at bay all the way back to The Mall in London for the finish. With a bunch finish expected, many teams have built their squads around a sprinter, and they will work hard to reel in any escape group. Mark Cavendish heads Great Britain’s hope for a gold medal in the event.
Boonen enjoyed a highly successful Spring Classics campaign, winning Paris-Roubaix, Ghent-Wevelgem, E3 Harelbeke and the Tour of Flanders. Boonen was in action at the Tour of Poland last week.
Gilbert hasn’t repeated last year’s stellar season that saw him top the WorldTour rankings after a string of high-profile wins – he has failed to take a single win for new team BMC. He has just taken part in the Tour de France.
It’s likely that the Belgian team will rally around whichever of its top two riders is best positioned on the day.
Boonen and Gilbert are joined on the Belgian team by Jurgen Roelandts, Stijn Vandenbergh and Greg Van Avermaet.
Earlier in the day, Box Hill had remained open to all cyclists riding up – but not down – the Zig Zag Road hill but was closed in the afternoon after several cyclists had chosen to ignore the restriction.
Belgium ride up Box Hill. Photo: Dave Kennett
Tom Boonen and unmissable Specialized Venge bike