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Boris Johnson announces details of RideLondon weekend-long Olympic legacy event (+ video)

Cycling to take over capital for two days in August 2013.... but Sustrans says that a real legacy would be helping people use their bikes every day

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has this morning announced full details of the two-day cycling festival, called RideLondon, aimed at helping secure the capital’s Olympic legacy. Sustainable transport charity Sustrans has said that a real legacy, however, would be helping more people use bicycles as an everyday mode of transport.

The inaugural edition of RideLondon will take place on the weekend beginning Saturday 3 August 2013 and will include a family fun ride, a 100-mile road ride incorporating an elite race that takes in much of the Olympic road race route, and a criterium in the heart of the city.

The event is expected to attract 200,000 visitors to London and will be organised by the London & Surrey Cycling Partnership, a joint venture between the organisers of the London Marathon and The Tour of Britain.

The involvement of the London Marathon organisers underlines the mayor’s ambition that the event will become the biggest charity fundraising cycle ride in the world, and online registration is now open on the RideLondon website for cyclists wishing to express their interest in taking part in the family fun ride, expected to attract 70,000 riders to an eight-mile closed circuit taking in many of the capital’s best-known landmarks, as well as the mass road ride that will have 20,000 participants.

The events that will make up the weekend are:

  • RideLondon Freecycle “COME ALONG FOR THE RIDE” - An 8 mile central London route on closed roads for up to 70,000 people.
  • RideLondon Grand Prix “EXPERIENCE CRITERIUM RACING” - Also known as Criterium Racing, this invitational city centre loop will provide a focus for the Women’s Elite, hand-cycles and youth groups.
  • RideLondon 100 “RISE TO THE CHALLENGE” - A 100 mile challenge ride including charitable fundraising through London and Surrey via Richmond Park - expected to attract 20,000 riders in Year 1.
  • RideLondon Classic “SEE THE GREATS” - Starting in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and following part of the Olympic Road Race route this race will see the international men’s elite take to the roads of London & Surrey on what is expected to become part of the UCI’s official race calendar (announcement in September).

Announcing details of the event today, Mr Johnson said: “This year London has been the place to be and yet again this amazing city has proved its expertise in hosting major world class sporting and cultural events.

“Our challenge is to ensure that 2012 is just the start, not the end of the benefits of hosting the Games. We must create long lasting opportunities for the Olympic Park and the capital, which will showcase London to the world, attract more visitors, create more jobs and support the economy. 

“We also need to capitalise on the incredible achievements of Team GB’s Olympic cyclists whose superhuman efforts will inspire thousands more Londoners to take to two wheels. I urge every Londoner and cycle fanatics from all over the country, if not the world, to mark the weekend of 3 August 2013 in their diaries for what I believe will become one of the world’s number one cycling events.”

German Dector-Vega, Sustrans London Director, insisted however that the focus should not just be on one weekend-long event, saying: “It’s great that the Mayor wants to capitalise on the recent boom in the popularity of cycling, and this Cycling Festival will no doubt maintain cycling as a high profile sport.

“A real cycling legacy from the Games will give more people to chance to use their bike as a regular form of transport.  We hope the Mayor will be keen to continue to develop the London Greenway’s network, and also make cycling more accessible to young people.

“Over the course of the Games over 1000 children have taken part in Olympic taster sessions organised by Sustrans, we’d love to see every child in London have a chance to get on a bike and learn to cycle safely.”

Full details of the routes of the rides will be announced later this year and will draw on lessons learned during London 2012, and the event is also due to be televised by the BBC.

Present at today’s launch was double Olympic champion Laura Trott, who said: "It's been amazing the way the British public have really got behind Team GB and cycling in general during the last few weeks. I’ve been completely blown away by how many people have come out to support us.

“The crowd noise in the Velodrome was something I will never forget. It’s great to think we may have inspired people to get on their bikes and RideLondon is a great opportunity for the public to get out and join us on the roads. Cycling has always been a huge part of my family’s life and I hope that having watched the Games lots more people will be encouraged to have a go.”

British Cycling President Brian Cookson added: “The Launch of RideLondon today is further proof that British Cycling’s Olympic legacy is already in place. Like the rest of the country I have celebrated the achievements of Laura Trott, Bradley Wiggins and Sir Chris Hoy, not just because they have succeeded during a wonderful summer for British cycle sport, but because they and the rest of the British Cycling team are inspiring people across the country to get active.

“Success in the Tour de France and the Olympics has seen membership surge, seeing 250 people a day join British Cycling. There are over 160,000 more people cycling once a week or more than was the case six months ago.

“RideLondon demonstrates there is now an unprecedented, mainstream demand for cycling events in this country. And our colleagues at the UCI know that British Cycling can be relied upon to produce not just competitors of the highest level, but also superbly organised events for cyclists of all levels of ability.

“None of this is a happy accident but the product of years of hard work. What we are seeing are the fruits of a strategy British Cycling has been pursuing for over a decade. And the success of our sport at both elite and participation levels is a great return on the efforts of so many of the people involved in our sport who have turned that strategy into action.

“Having been involved with the creation of RideLondon we look forward to this annual events first delivery next year with great anticipation”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Mostyn | 11 years ago

Ride London! 100, miles Olympic route? London to Box Hill and return to London is about 60, miles? Why is the CHARITY (Ballot only entry) ride 100, miles???? Anyone know?

I'm in the possitive camp; and think the idea of the ride London event is great, But think the format & management of the event,is already upsetting many cyclists! 8, miles fun ride, that's marvelous for people who just ride occasionally and those who want to ride a bike around the Olympic city.

What about those cyclists who find 100, miles a wee bit too much for their ability; and the 8, mile ride, no more than a daily commute! Something in the mid range should be incorporated - LIKE : London to Box Hill and Back! It's a ride of 60, miles or so? Entry should also be on a first come basis with a reasonable entry fee! Or is this extravaganza just another money making venture? There will be many people who will find it expensive just traveling to London in the hope of being part of this event. What is the cost of entry to participate in the 100, mile ride? or is it one of those events where you can only be considered for entry if you collect thousands for charity? Shame this event didn't spill over to other parts of the UK; that would certainly encourage people to get on thir bikes.

spuriousvitriol | 11 years ago

Ensuring road racing stays on the road is hugely important for the UK and a small beginning step in getting the UK culture changed. If other areas of the country can show that different police forces etc allow open road racing then it can only be good for the sport.

What is not good, is the mention of only elite mens RR on the Olympic route and then the Grand Prix focus on Womens. For a complete legacy why not both mens and womens road race and criterium?

Doctor Fegg | 11 years ago

@doc: Fine - "stick to racing", then, not "pro racing". I'll edit my post accordingly, but it's still irrelevant to 99% of cyclists, I'm afraid.

If BC really have been promoting cycling at the highest levels of govt then they're pretty crap at it, given that the govt has abolished Cycling England and invested precisely £0 in those areas not lucky enough to get a few scraps from the LSTF plate. Sustrans, meanwhile, got £50m from the Lottery for cycling infrastructure (Connect2) matched by another £100m-ish in local authority funding.

doc | 11 years ago

Regrettable that the theme of comment seems to be mostly negative. The new event will raise the profile of the sport, and the profile of cycling. Whilst we all want to see safe routes and zero incidents, London is a big city and things take time. As for the comment that BC should "concentrate on pro racing" clearly the poster does not read much as BC have been pushing the safety agenda for some time, and regulate the MANY AMATEUR races that form grass roots sport, and give new riders opportunities in a safe environment (cl;osed circuits) before they move on to road races (or track, or CX, or MTB, or BMX, or anything else). All the time pushing the cycling agenda generally, and working at high levels in government.
Glass more than half full, not almost empty, I think.

bassjunkieuk replied to doc | 11 years ago

The problem is it's not a "new" event, he already announced the Cycle Festival back in January and has actually scaled back the estimates - the reports I've read elsewhere say he was hoping for 35K to take part in the sportive, not the 20K it's at now.

It's also just a re-hash of the normally annual ride that took part in London that used to be called the Freecycle before SKy got their corporate branding all over it.

It isn't a legacy and whilst it's nice to be able to get out around town for a ride with the kids on one day a year it doesn't help the other 364 days does it? It's not going to make the slightest bit of difference to my commutes, as previous commenters have said the ORN and general reduction in traffic over the games has been wonderful and goes to show we don't need London to look like a multilane car park for the city to survive.

Nick T | 11 years ago

I'm not sure what you would have expected the Mayor of London or the London & Surrey Cycling Partnership to be doing about any Olympic legacy wherever you are Gkam84.

Gkam84 | 11 years ago

The other part I'd like to pick up on.

"The Launch of RideLondon today is further proof that British Cycling’s Olympic legacy is already in place."

Really?? So BRITAIN seems to end on the outskirts of London?

I knew this was going to happen, its a games "for Great Britain" but we'll keep all the money and legacy in London and it will not be spread though-out the country, after all, we did send the torch past your area  19 , even though many of the medallists come from my area. We'll see nothing but a few tacky gold postboxes

Doctor Fegg | 11 years ago

The contrasting reactions from British Cycling and Sustrans demonstrate exactly why BC should keep the hell out of everyday cycling and focus on racing. Sorry, Mr Cookson, but if that's what you call a "legacy" I'd rather you stuck to the track, not the commute.

Gkam84 | 11 years ago

Marginal gains are what saw the British team's success. London and TFL and others have gone. Wait a minute, forget marginal gains, We can make MASSIVE gains (in our pockets) by putting something on.  3

Legacy should be looking at making the roads in congested cities safer for cycling. But thats never going to happen.

I'm glad I live in the country  4

Coleman | 11 years ago

The Olympic legacy. Very little was done to make cycling to the venues easier or safer. Very little will be done to make cycling in London easier or safer.

Just remember folks, you just have to 'keep your wits about you'.

Thanks Boris. You twit.

sparrow_h | 11 years ago

Have to say, I'm with Sustrans on this one. Cycling and walking around London has been so much nicer during the games with less traffic in town, I am not looking forward to it all returning to normal. A wonderful Olympic legacy would be a commitment to working towards connected cycling routes in and out of town with these conditions all the time (or the ORN/games lanes being reallocated to cyclists only, now that we know that the city still functions without cars on these roads ;)).

Reading about the RideLondon Freecycle I cant help thinking that surely families should feel like they can access and ride through central London by bike every day of the year? I also wonder how they will all get in? The obvious answer is ride but there are not family-friendly routes from a lot of places, especially when you consider that it is for an 8-mile ride (a bit of a distance for children already). I would not take children on the 'superhighways' and I can't help but suspect that many people will see no other option but to drive in with their bikes..

Having said that, it will be great to see racing in London again. It is just a bit disappointing that there is nothing here for people who cycle for transport, seems like a missed opportunity.

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