On Friday, the wedding party cars at the Burford Bridge Hotel beneath Box Hill had to cope with gatecrashers in the shape of several Great Britain team cars, a documentary film crew, a team coach on a maxi-scooter and sundry other GB staff – British Cycling never travels knowingly under-manned.
And, at the heart of the fuss there were two riders, one in the rainbow bands of the World road race champion and the other in regulation Sky kit – Mark Cavendish and Ben Swift – out to do a final test of the crucial Box Hill climb.
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“This is Mark’s last chance to ride part of the course before the Games, so we’re making the most of it,” said one team member, in spite of the threatening clouds and tree-bending winds. Nobody should have been fooled by the presence of the film crew though, this was no advertising shoot, this was a full-on training effort.
“The plan is to do several full-on climbs up Box Hill as well as some riding with Rod (Ellingworth) behind the scooter. Rod’s got an SRM PowerMeter attached to his bars so he can see what Mark is doing and, although (Sky’s chief sports scientist) Tim Kerrison isn’t here today, we’ve got a member of the sports science team with us. Although we can get live data from the SRM if we need to, we’re not doing that today.”
Although Cavendish was resplendent in his rainbow jersey and the rest of the staff in GB kit and team cars in full livery, “we didn’t announce this session to the media, although these things always tend to get out. The last time we came here there were about 60 people waiting on Box Hill.”
You can bet there will be a hell of a lot more people on July 28, the day of the Olympic Road race.