Sunday, August 14, 2011

By JOHN GEOGHEGAN and CHRIS GREENWOOD



Taking up the tarmac: Competitors are spread across the entire width of the road along the London-Surrey route



The organisers had hoped it would be a seamless test run for the 2012 Olympics.



But the chaos that surrounded yesterday’s London-Surrey Cycle Classic may have given an unfortunate taste of what to expect next summer.



Much of London was left in gridlock by the bicycle race, and some furious drivers were even forced to abandon their cars.





Wide berth: Even The Mall in London had to be cordoned off to allow the cyclists through



Top cyclists rode from The Mall in central London to Box Hill in Surrey and back again - the exact same 87-mile route as the road race in the 2012 Olympics.



About 1,400 roads in London and Surrey were shut for most of the day, resulting in huge traffic build-ups.



Roads in central London were blocked off from 4am yesterday while those further out had closed at 8pm on Saturday. Many closures remained in place until 4pm yesterday.



Transport for London bosses said they warned residents and businesses that roads in the area would be ‘severely affected’.







Tourist attraction: The leading pack did draw some support from cycle fans as they hit the home straight down The Mall





Areas affected included Westminster, Chelsea, Fulham , Richmond, Hampton Court and parts of Surrey.



South west London, including Kingston and Putney, were among the worst-hit areas.

Motorists complained that journeys of just a few miles took up to two hours and in some cases were impossible to complete.



There were reports of tempers fraying around Earls Court when a wedding convoy realised their route was completely blocked by temporary road blocks.



One unnamed race steward in Putney High Street admitted the road closures had been ‘chaotic’ with staff left in the dark over when diversions would be lifted.







Pedal power: Competitors rode from The Mall in central London to Box Hill in Surrey and back again - the exact same 87-mile route as the road race in the 2012 Olympics





Takeover: About 1,400 roads in London and Surrey were shut for most of the day, resulting in huge traffic build-ups





The race passed through six London boroughs, four Royal Parks and out into Surrey before returning to central London and The Mall where Briton Mark Cavendish was first across the finishing line.



The event follows the route to be followed by the Olympic road cycling races, which take place over five days next summer, from Saturday, July 28, until Wednesday August 1.



Free to watch, it will include separate races for men and women plus time trials.





Mark Cavendish sprints fro the line in front of Buckhingham Palace and (right) celebrates his victory





Not exactly a walk in the park: Normally peaceful Richmond Park was on the cyclists' route





Support: Spectators in Headley, Surrey, were out in force. About 1,400 roads in London and Surrey were shut for most of the day, resulting in huge traffic build-ups







Sealed with a kiss: Cavendish celebrates his win with girlfriend Peta Todd



source: dailymail

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