Despite a third night of rioting in London, LOGOC today reassured Cycling Weekly that Sunday’s London-Surrey Cycle Classic, the test event for next year’s Olympic road race, will go ahead as planned.
Being so close to the event, it would have been a shame if all the preparations for the race – some good, some bad, it has to be said – were ruined by the mindless acts of violence that have taken place across the capital since Saturday.
Hopefully, what’s happened these past three days does not stop people from lining the route of this weekend’s race, which sets out from The Mall at 9am.
If anything, it’s going to be the event’s publicity campaign that will detract people from cheering on what is arguably the best field to race on British soil since the Tour de France visited four years ago.
Instead of promoting that fact (or even publicising the race positively), both the print and radio advertisements centre around likely disruption that is likely to occur.
Print advert as printed in the Evening Standard, August 8.
The way the above advert reads, the tone is almost critical of those competing, even suggesting that they’re to blame for the travel problems.
Furthermore, on its website, Transport for London (which admittedly describes the race as an “interesting spectacle) lists information on how to watch the race after comprehensive details of road closures, travel restrictions and bus diversions.
Why isn’t Mark Cavendish mentioned at all? Why haven’t TfL, who are notorious for spin when it comes to things like the Jubilee Line, identified the race as a good thing, particularly when they’re so eager to promote the London Cycle Hire Scheme and Cycle Superhighways? Why does it seem like the race is being treated as an inconvenience?
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When Take That played eight nights at Wembley Stadium this summer, the story was about their record-breaking ticket sales. No-one mentioned the logistical difficulty of 60,000 converging on the area on a daily basis.
82,000 fans travel to Twickenham for rugby fixtures, 60,000 head to the Emirates Stadium in North London to watch Arsenal play. Thousands queue to get tickets for Wimbledon. Yes, the roads may become busy and public transport crowded. But it’s the downside to the staging of popular events in big cities.
Yes, it’s good that TfL have put such lengthy contingency plans in place to attempt to minimise disruption for residents, but combined with LOCOG’s recent narrow focus on restricting access to Box Hill and The Mall, it seems that they’ve forgotten about the bigger picture.
And that’s not good for the riders, the teams or cycling fans.