The National Trust and LOCOG security had to shut Box Hill today after some leisure cyclists verbally abused security guards who had tried to stop them riding down the road.
A one-way system was enforced in the morning so that national teams and local cyclists could enjoy riding up the road, free of all traffic except some service vehicles working on the venue. But just after midday the road was closed completely leaving Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert stuck at the bottom having only ridden a couple of laps.
“It’s a shame because it was a really nice atmosphere, but a few wouldn’t abide by the rules,” National Trust countryside manager for Box Hill, Andy Wright explained.
“There were some that turned around before the visitor centre and shouted abuse at the security guys, and gave them the ‘v’ sign as they rode off. They were going down at some speed, and there were a lot of logistical vehicles around, it was a health and safety judgement in the end. It was an accident waiting to happen.”
Box Hill had been scheduled to be shut completely from today until July 30. “We wanted to open it up as we’d like everyone to come and enjoy Box Hill. We do like cyclists here and we’re not going to let half a dozen sour our opinion,” said Wright
Several teams rode the 15.5km Box Hill loop yesterday, and although it was quieter this morning, a few teams still arrived to check out the hill and enjoy the sunshine that has finally arrived in the UK. The Belgian team had driven out from Stratford as they are staying in the Olympic village, while the Dutch team are staying in the Burford Bridge hotel – at the bottom of Box Hill.
Canadian and Irish riders were spotted, while the American team were seen on Staple lane, a climb on the route before the Box Hill loop.
Wright said that they were hoping to re-open Box Hill for cyclists riding up the hill, but that any decision would be made after meeting with the security team.
Soon after the route was announced, LOCOG said that painting on the road would not be allowed, but the National Trust has a softer line. “We don’t want to be po-faced about it,” Wright said. “It’s part and parcel of races like the Tour de France and I think it adds to the atmosphere. I’d prefer it was in chalk rather than paint, but we will never be an Olympic venue again, so lets celebrate it.”
Most of the road road painting that has gone up lacks imagination (and someone has written ‘Great Brittain’), but there is one good piece of graffiti – a Manx Missile
Wright also dismissed rumours that the road would be resurfaced after the race. “That road cost us a lot, we’re certainly not going to get rid of it. Although the speed bumps will go back in, like for like, at the end of August.”