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!”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.