Great Britain’s cyclists are following those of Australia, Canada and the United States in basing themselves in Surrey ahead of next summer’s Olympic Games, in which the men’s road race gives Mark Cavendish the chance to win what will be the first gold medal on offer at London 2012.
With most of that race due to be run on Surrey’s roads, as well as the time trial, which starts and finishes at Hampton Court Palace, choosing the county as a pre-Olympic base is an obvious choice.
The women’s events, in which Nicole Cooke defends her road race title and Emma Pooley will be hoping to go one better than the silver medal she win in Beijing, will follow an almost identical route to the men’s but cover shorter distances.
Surrey County Council says that in all, some 16 teams across all sports are signed up to train in the county, out of a total of 30 in the South East as a whole, and that it was hopeful more would follow after London 2012 organisers LOCOG extended a deadline to apply for a training grant.
“These athletes demand world class training facilities and superb accommodation to ensure they are at their physical and mental peak for the 2012 Games, explained Denise Saliagopoulos, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services and the 2012 Games. “With this in mind, it is no surprise so many teams have chosen Surrey as their base.
“The deadline for teams to obtain up to £25,000 from LOCOG as a training grant has been extended until the end of February. We’d be delighted to speak to Olympic and Paralympic nations and show them the superb facilities Surrey has to offer to help prepare their athletes for London 2012.”
Former world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara recently made a flying visit to Surrey in which he checked out both the road race and the time trial courses.
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.