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.
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.