Canada's cyclists join US and Australia in choosing Surrey as their Olympic base

Local riders looking forward to sharing the road with some of the sport's big names

by Simon_MacMichael   November 3, 2011  

Canadian Flag

Canada is the latest country to confirm that its cyclists will be based in Surrey in the build-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games, joining Australia and the United States in adopting the county as their temporary home.

While for the Americans, there may be a sentimental reason behind their decision, with a small part of the county that will forever be US soil – the John F Kennedy Memorial at Runnymede – the ease of access to Heathrow and Gatwick and more importantly the fact that the county hosts parts of the Olympic road race and time trial routes are the more practical reasons to choose Surrey as a base.

But for the Canadians, as perhaps befits a country which markets itself partly on the friendly welcome its population gives to visitors, there was another reason, with Matthew Knight, of the Canadian Cycling Association, quoted on the BBC News website as saying: "The hospitality that we have received from the Surrey community has been very positive."

The country’s big medal hopes on the road in London next year will most likely lie in the women’s time trial – Tara Whitten, Clara Hughes and Rhae-Christie Shaw finished respectively fourth, fifth and seventh in the event at September’s Road World Championships in Copenhagen.

Ryder Hesjedal, meanwhile, has a string of impressive one day results including second place in last year’s Amstel Gold Race and top ten finishes in the Clasica de San Sebastian and Montepaschi Strade Bianche.

If the men’s road race comes down to a bunch sprint, he’s unlikely to figure in the finale, but if the field gets split on the multiple laps of Box Hill and Hesjedal makes the selection – a definite possibility given the former mountain biker’s power going uphill – he could well spring a surprise.

With Australia and the USA joining Canada in selecting Surrey as their base – and riders from other countries no doubt undertaking their own recces of the course, even if not staying nearby – excitement is building among local riders at the prospect of sharing the road with the stars of the sport.

Kathryn Brown, a member of Guildford-based Charlotteville Cycling Club, told road.cc: “Ever since the Olympic Road Race route was unveiled last year there has been a real buzz about the prospect of Olympians battling it out on my local roads in Surrey.

“The race route takes in firm favourites of Sunday club runs and climbs and descents well known to local riders. The climb of Staple Lane is particularly well known to members of Charlotteville Cycling Club as it’s the venue for their annual hill climb.

“With the Canadian, American and Australian teams will be basing themselves in Surrey and training on its roads in the run up to next year’s race, the prospect of bumping in to a famous name or two while out on a Sunday morning ride is an exciting one and I can’t wait to be sharing the tarmac with some of my cycling heroes,” she added.

“Perhaps they’d like to join the Charlotteville club run one Sunday morning or perhaps just give me a push on their way past!”