London-Surrey Cycle Classic: Mark Cavendish wins 2012 Olympics test event

Manx Missile takes starring role in London 2012 dress rehearsal

by Simon_MacMichael   August 14, 2011  

Mark Cavendish of Great Britain already has an appointment at Buckingham Palace to pick up his MBE, and today picked up another prize in front of the royal residence, winning the London-Surrey Cycle Classic, the dress rehearsal for the Olympic road race in 12 months' time. The Manxman outsprintied a select group of 20 riders contesting the finale on The Mall, although missing from that group was the American, Tyler Farrar, who crashed a couple of kilometres out. Italy's Sacha Modolo was second, with Samuel Dumoulin third.

Huge crowds, compared by some to those that greeted the Tour de France on its Grand Départ from London in 2007, cheered the peloton on as the riders left the Mall and all the way along the 140-kilometre course through South West London and into Surrey.

There, a lucky few had been able to obtain the wristbands that gave them access to the Zig Zag Road section of Box Hill, where fan numbers were restricted, as they will be during the Olympics, as a result of the National Trust-owned land being a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to rare species of butterfly and orchid found there.

In 12 months’ time, the riders with ambitions to succeed Samuel Sanchez as Olympic champion, and presumably spend the next four years accessorising various parts of their bike and kit in gold, will have to negotiate the short but punishing ascent nine times.

Today’s event saw the riders tackling Box Hill twice, and both times it was Rapha-Condor-Sharp’s Kristian House, British Champion in 2009, who learnt his cycling in the hill country around Austin, Texas after his family moved there when he was a child, who was the first man over.

House’s presence in the race was due to the decision of the organisers to invite several UK-based trade teams to participate in the event. Presumably, that was partly to do with guaranteeing a decent-sized field.

However, it also gave riders from those seven teams such as Twenty3c-Orbea and Cyclepremier-Metaltek a chance to pit themselves against some big names in the 21 national squads, including the Cavendish-led team representing Great Britain and a separate England team.

House was joined in the break, which had already established a lead of 3 minutes as it headed through Richmond Park, by Tom Murray of Sigma Sport-Specialized, Liam Holohan of Team Raleigh and the Brazilian rider, Cleberson Weber.

The quartet were out on their own as the race headed through the Surrey Hills, allowing House to pick up the day’s King of the Mountains prize, but as the riders headed back into the capital the pace picked up at the front of the chasing bunch, with a number of riders shelled out of the back ahead of the bunch finish in front of Buckingham Palace.

House was the last of the escapees to be swept up with just 9 kilometres left to ride, and although Team Sky's Kurt Asle Arvesen, riding today in the colours of his native Norway, then tried to get away, he too was brought back.

Although there was no women’s race today, the closed roads also gave some of the women looking to succeed Beijing winner, Great Britain’s Nicole Cooke, an opportunity to try out the course.

Among those spotted riding the route was the irrepressible Jeannie Longo of France, winner of the road race at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, who will be aged 53 by London 2012.

The BBC, which has come under criticism for not providing live coverage of the event, even via the Red Button service, will be showing brief highlights of today’s race in a special Olympics round-up programme on BBC2 next Sunday afternoon.

15 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

BBC didn't have a live ticker like for the football. Hurrch for JillADouglas on twitter!

posted by a.jumper [835 posts]
14th August 2011 - 12:36

1 Like

Very disappointing that there was no live coverage. Thankfully Rapha kept updating me.

Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades. (Merckx)

obutterwick's picture

posted by obutterwick [538 posts]
14th August 2011 - 12:38

1 Like

Nice pic carlgrz!! Chapeau

posted by Winton [69 posts]
14th August 2011 - 13:00


red, white blue and green is a fashion faux par surely?

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1348 posts]
14th August 2011 - 13:52

1 Like

I think when you've won the green jersey at the TdF it suddenly goes with everything!

posted by carlgrz [51 posts]
14th August 2011 - 15:44

1 Like

I was lucky and got a wrist band for Box Hill..or so I thought. It was great organisation but over controlled. With a massive area of box hill fenced off we where penned into a tiny area. A great event and I delighted Cav won but take my advice. Find a spot on the route and just enjoy them flying past. Box Hill has been set up to look good on TV, not a spectators venue.

posted by speacock19740 [7 posts]
14th August 2011 - 16:17


I was also in the Box Hill enclosure and, ignoring the completely idiotic road closures (roads closed over two hours after the race had passed), most things worked well. It would be nice if the PA actually told us what was happening during the race as it was a bit obvious that the lady doing the PA could see less than we could and mostly she was restricted to telling people to stay still and not fall onto the road. Still, good to see so many elite riders in one place in the UK.

posted by atlaz [176 posts]
14th August 2011 - 17:43

1 Like

My god that woman on the PA was annoying. Every two minutes she reminded us of the great danger we were in. Thanks to her sage advice I managed to not fall into the road, however I scratched my leg on a bramble bush.
Dangerous stuff.

posted by monkeyjo [36 posts]
14th August 2011 - 21:53

1 Like

Was someone from team in Richmond Park? I saw someone in the old jersey sporting a camera.

On a slightly cheeky note, the photos above made me feel a little better - my snaps were worse than yours but not by too much Big Grin


rbx's picture

posted by rbx [243 posts]
14th August 2011 - 22:55


That was me!

But more to the point - who was this guy?
As the riders came back into Richmond Park on the return, he was riding solo between the lead pack and the 2nd group, just in front of a lone Brazilian. It reminded me of the prankster who snuck into a Man United team shot before a cup final a few years back. Does anyone know the story?.....

posted by smernicki [30 posts]
15th August 2011 - 6:45

1 Like

Might be this bloke:

He's getting a filthy look from the Belgian rider. try this link if the shortened Flickr one above doesn't work for you:

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9528 posts]
15th August 2011 - 7:49


Excellent - chapeau to matey who sneaked in!!
I was on Box Hill and echo the posts above. That woman on the PA was a prat! When the car came by telling us that the breakaway was 6 minutes she said the race was coming in 6 minutes!
Allowing people to cycle up to the bike park (who knew that would be there?) on the road would have made sense too, but we had to walk our bikes up through the woods and then walk back to the enclosure.
Not letting people ride on closed roads 2-3 hours before the race started seemed a bit like overkill, and telling us to wlk our bikes down Box Hill after the event - what was that about? This was a ROAD CYCLING event!!
The view of the countryside and the 8ft fences across the valley was great, but not so good of the racing. I will try to find a better location for next year.

posted by SimpleSimon [116 posts]
15th August 2011 - 9:08


Brief highlights (no commentary) here:

Cav/Brailsford post-race interview here:

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9528 posts]
15th August 2011 - 16:34


Glad to hear so many people survived the dangers of Box Hill. I just hope they have leant a few thinks for next year. I might be naive (you can comment) but I watch video of the TDF going up the box climbs with thousands of people on the road not getting in the way (with maybe one exception a year) is it wrong to think we could do the same thing? All right maybe not that free but you get my point.

That woman on the PA was a prat. She didn’t even mention Cavendish as he went past….twice.

P.S. I hacked off with not being able to cycle off the hill (when the riders had been gone for over 30mins) and crept under a fence to go down a bridleway. We popped out by the Police at the bottom and they really didn’t care. Good lads!

posted by speacock19740 [7 posts]
15th August 2011 - 21:39

1 Like

I was marshalling at the event and until 30 minutes before the group arrived I just let people get on with riding on the road. There were still vehicles for the event on the course even though the roads were closed.

Apart from people completing ignoring requests not to cross before the last vehicle passed, the cyclist that ignored my request to get off the road whilst riders were still coming through was the worst of it.

If people are offended by safety announcements, tough. None of us who helped out wanted to see anyone killed during the event as has happened before in other events.

I expected the event to be postponed however the number of volunteers was many times more than the number of police. Looking forward to next year!

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [295 posts]
17th August 2011 - 10:01