After missing out on the vast majority of track cycling tickets, prepare to be short-changed at the Olympic road race: you’ll need to wear a wristband to get anywhere near the best bits.

The London-Surrey Cycle Classic (August 14), the test event for the 2012 Olympic road race, provides a taste of the restrictions imposed on would-be spectators on two key parts of the route.

According to LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games), restrictions will be imposed at the race’s start and finish on the Mall and the Zig Zag Road at Box Hill, the jewel in the crown of the Surrey circuit.

There are to be fences and barriers on the restricted part of the climb, with security enforcing the area. The Mall and Box Hill will have capacities of 3,500 and 3,400 respectively.

The restrictions stem from Box Hill’s status as a protected SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). A new species of butterfly was recently discovered, meaning there will be one restricted area, according to LOCOG spokesperson Emma Pickles.

The protection of orchids has also been cited, by Natural England, the government’s adviser on the natural environment, as a reason for the limitation.

Yet it has emerged that LOCOG failed to contact these interested parties before planning the route. Surrey County Council indicated that it was only involved late in the process.

Wristbands only

Cycling Weekly understands that the wristbands required to access key parts of the course will be made available through application to local councils and British Cycling – as well as from British cycling magazines.

“We wanted to make sure that people from the cycling community will be able to attend,” Pickles said. Spectator areas on Box Hill for non-wristband holders will be limited.

LOCOG offered Cycling Weekly 450 wristbands for the test event to distribute to readers.

We declined the offer on the grounds that the access restrictions will leave too many fans disappointed. 

Considering the abundance of similar climbs in the area, we asked LOCOG: why choose Box Hill, given its known status as an SSSI and the subsequent likely restrictions on access?

Pickles replied “It’s a really good technical aspect and great visually from a broadcast point of view. It [the restricted area] is only a small area of Box Hill; Box Hill is huge,” Pickles said.

See the July 14 issue of Cycling Weekly (out today) for more on this story.

Related links



Olympic Road Race route officially revealed



2012 Olympic Games road race route recce



Cycling Weekly’s 2012 Olympic Games news section



Olympics road race route: Not on our Box Hill

  • James Baldwin

    So I go no tickets for the olympics. Glad I didn’t couldn’t afford them. What a botch . Put you name down will do a lucky dip then tell you how much. So to console myself I will now watch RR at box hill. Now it looks like this will not happen either. How much? Will you get in. Travel from Yorkshire on a gamble. I think not!! I hope people boycott the games it stinks of racketeering. I will go out on my bike instead. Public roads closed to the public. How long till the tickets are offered. In competition on cereal boxes. Shame on you sir Seb.

  • Cougar Girl

    I can’t understand the concept of barriering a road race at all.

    I went to central London for the Tour of Britain, no tickets, no restriction on access (“Oops, sorry, Mr Hushovd, did I nearly knock you over then, as you cooled down after your TT run?” ) and the authorities and local shops must have made a fortune on selling food to all the visitors.

    If LOCOG want to make money, just franchise some food and souvenir stalls!

    Do they really think they are going to get thousands and thousands of visitors, carelessly trampling over the rare precious grass, and frightening the butterflies away from the very, very edge of the road? I hate to rain on their parade, but cycling is not “that” big a sport, even in Olympic year. Besides, there is a natural “spread” to the spectators: once the crowd gets about five deep, they move sideways. Just watch any of the TdF footage. Everyone wants to be able to see, so the front gets wider, and not everyone gets up to the steepest parts.

    Neil in Derbyshire, you are not alone: it’s going to be a long journey for us to get to Box Hill, and if there’s a chance of being turned away, well, we just won’t bother. How many other fans are not going to bother?

    Oh, and Mr Graham’s link to a map showing the restricted area no longer works, so if anyone has a new link, I’d like to see it: also, I’d be interested to hear suggestions as to good places to stand where there won’t be restrictions…

  • Karen Dixon

    @ Cavologuardi – I think I love you! ha ha

    Unbelievable that they are going to restrict me, and other regular visitors to Box Hill and supporters of their cafeteria (despite the queues due to understaffing) from the most (only) exciting international event that has occurred during my lifetime in my vicinity. Nice One!!!!

  • Graham head

    Hi wish the guys and girls all the best on the box hill route being an ex surrey roads cycle member i support them 100% tough climb ,i support cavologuardi comments i agree with you entirely i used to live for 10 yrs in an area of outstanding of sssi and area of outstanding beauty as the Bureaucrats called it ,i get your point the council allowed a massive cul of yew trees on box hill afew years back ,then allowed half of the north downs forest behind my old farm i used to own to be cut down .before they then asked me to demolish my home i had lived in for 10yrs which could not be harming anyone, then pay council tax which i also paid all though the ex enforcement officer Mr Lea said he did not beleive i lived there . Oh and would you believe it They lost the case file and photo evidence when it was asked for by my Chartered planner ,then used an ex enforcement officer Graham lea or was it lie to supply proof of evidence of site visit to my home ,he replied back on an email request back to Helen smith of MVDC who asked Graham lea what happened on the site visit,quote from Mr Lea; i cant remember dates or times please remind me; so she did ?[still keep a copy of email ]. The Truth that never came out and more with evidence to back , if you want a story bring it on ,But im still cycling and smiling Hey life is too short.wish you all the best.
    Graham .

  • davidt

    I had a look up at Box Hill last night – 8 feet high fencing is going up all around with heavy security starting to look like a prison camp. With access for only 3,500 people – you get more visitors than that on an average weekend

  • Jonathan Graham

    The map below shows the restricted area where you need a wristband.

    http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/Box_Hill_Viewing_Map.pdf

    You’ll see that the Box Hill cafe and the final part of the climb (the steepest) has ‘limited roadside viewing’ so if you want to see the best part of the race you can. You’ll just have to get up there before 6.30am as after that the roads will be closed.

    I can understand the need to restrict viewing further down the zigzag as it is indeed an area of scientific interest. You wouldn’t expect other National Trust sites to open their doors to thousands of people in one go would you? I too ended up with no Olympics tickets at all but I have done my research and I know where I can see the race on Sunday and next year.

    The most important thing is to support our cyclists from whatever vantage point you can.

  • Steve Young

    How on earth are they gonna restrict access it’s riddled with footpaths and bridleways?

  • Peter Gilbert

    I’m sure if LOCOG (the pros wont need this on box hill) could sell tickets for this part of the event the spectator restrictions would be lifted, and the place would be crammed with grandstands!!!!

    Just a though though; I saw mention of the removal of the bumps and the addition of fencing… how will this will effect the fauna & flora of Box Hill. I bet no one has got an answer for that !!

  • Jim Buckner

    I know for a fact that butterflies and pettled flamphiers ‘like’ bicycles bacause they encourage metastabilism in their lifespan because of they enriche the oxidant particles from monovehicular excitement of localised air mass. In such environments, the biogenetic greenmass deployment is also encouraged by ‘spectator’ footwork. It’s a nobrainer.
    The authoreterian restrictions on the Boxhill event is based on uneducated decisions by ignorant individuals who choose the latter over education.

  • Cavologuardi

    Blow it out your hole, Mike… and read what I wrote in full… I admitted I was being flippant… a wee bit crass, aye, you’re not wrong there, pal, but hardly ignorant. I have a degree, a masters degree and a PhD in a subject in which the study of the structure of ecosystems plays an intrinsic role.

    If the ‘delicate’ trophic systems existing on the slopes of the Alps can bear the Tour every year (actually the episodic appliance of such stresses is often beneficial in the long term)… I’m sure Box Hill can bear it too. Homo sapiens has shaped the ecology of these islands since the ice last retreated… we’re an essential part of the ecosystem too. Every square inch of Surrey is man-made.

    Natural England are being a tad peevish on this matter in my view (I’m assuming because LOCOG didn’t have the good grace to consult them at an early stage – no surprises there, either). I’d be interested in submitting their scientific stance on the matter to a little more scrutiny.

    Remember, Mike, it’s healthy to be skeptical. It’s even healthier to admit to being wrong… and I may be wrong… but I’ll never ever take a quango’s word as gospel… especially when you see how much money the people who head such things get paid.

  • Ken Evans

    Cheer up, Cav might win !

  • mike

    “What’s so interesting about a bloody butterfly and a few flowers?”

    I pray that I never write anything as crass and ignorant as that

  • Neil

    LOCOG quote ” It [the restricted area] is only a small area of Box Hill; Box Hill is huge,” but earlier in the article it is satated that “Spectator areas on Box Hill for non-wristband holders will be limited”.
    The statement seems to contradict each other so cn someone please come clean and tel us what the deal actually is??
    I live in Derbyshire and really wanted to travel down and watch the race on Box HIll given that it is where we’ll see the riders multiple times but I am not going to be travelling down if there’s a strong chance of being turned away.
    In my opinion the whole situation is a farce. A road race, on public open roads, that the public appear not to be able to access freely.

    After the whole ticketing debacle, of which I received not tickets like the vast majority, this is leaving a very bad taste in the mouth. Al the PR surrounding the olympics is along the lines of ‘your once in a lifetime chance to see the olympics on home soil’ yet the spectator seems to be completely ignored.
    Disgraceful.

  • Cavologuardi

    Wristbands to get on Box Hill!? Gutted. The Zig Zag Road and the cafe on Box Hill form the highlight of the Sunday run of many a cyclist around here. The only place where the riders won’t be zooming past at over 40km/hr on an otherwise unimaginative route.

    I’m a scientist – what’s so interesting about a bloody butterfly and a few flowers? OK, I’m being flippant but how come there’ll be a zillion people gathered on the slopes of the Pyrenees and Les Alpes over the next few days and they won’t do any long-term ecological harm? Why do we allow our lives to be ruined by killjoys in blazers? Bureaucrats… hate ‘em!

    So stuff your Olympics where the sun don’t shine! Take your race off my roads altogether and do a hundred boring laps around St James’s Park instead.