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Olympics cycling "dry-run" in Surrey goes without a hitch
8:57pm Monday 15th August 2011 in Local News
Tens of thousands of spectators lined Surrey's roads on Sunday to cheer on cyclists in a race billed as a dry-run for next year's Olympic Games.
The London – Surrey Cycle Classic was won by British cycling hero Mark Cavendish and went without a hitch.
Around 140 riders from 21 national teams competed in the 87-mile event which started on The Mall in central London, and then headed into Surrey through the Elmbridge, Woking, Guildford and Mole Valley areas, before returning to the capital for the finish.
Surrey Police officers provided support to the 4,800 marshals, stewards and volunteers on duty, and assisted Surrey County Council, who closed around 350 roads on the route for varying times.
Large crowds gathered in many places along the route, especially in Dorking, where the cyclists completed two laps around Box Hill.
The event passed off without incident.
Surrey County Council leader Dr Andrew Povey congratulated race winner Mark Cavendish on the podium at the Mall, and presented the “King of Mountains” award to fellow British cyclist Kristian House.
Surrey Police said months of planning by Surrey Police and partner agencies had been rewarded with a trouble-free race.
The Force was supporting the county council as well as the Metropolitan Police and the event organisers, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).
A spokesman described it as “a test run for next year's Olympic road cycle race.”
That will venture as far south of the capital as Reigate and Banstead borough.
Describing the public's response to the event as generally “fantastic,” Superintendent Jerry Westerman said: "The race was a significant challenge for the Force and was a huge event in its own right.
“However, the extensive planning by our officers and staff alongside our partner agencies ensured it ran smoothly.”
He said: "This was a great opportunity to put our plans into practice ahead of the Olympics and we will use this experience to make improvements to our processes ahead of next summer's event.
"On the whole, the public response has been fantastic, and I would like to thank the county's residents for their co-operation and understanding, particularly anyone who was inconvenienced by the road closures implemented by the county council.”
Parking was temporarily suspended on some roads but only a very small number of vehicles had to be removed, and all roads were reopened by 2pm.
Some police officers and staff had started work at 3am at five sites across the county.
Surrey County Council’s cabinet member for community services and the 2012 Games, Denise Saliagopoulos, said: “The event was a great success and it was wonderful to see many thousands of people come out and enjoy an amazing experience.”
Coun Saliagopoulos said: “It was an important part of our preparations to make sure the real thing goes off without a glitch and I’m delighted it went so smoothly, with all road closures lifted by around 2pm.”
She continued: “Some of the world’s finest cyclists and best national teams powered their way along nearly 50 miles of Surrey’s roads and gave us a thrilling glimpse of what’s in store next year.
“The racing was spectacular and it was made even more so by the backdrop of our breathtaking countryside.
“Mark’s win was a fantastic way to top it all off and now we look forward to welcoming the world to Surrey next year.
“Those Olympic races will bring Surrey huge economic, sporting and cultural benefits, and offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch history unfold on our doorstep for free.”
Next year’s Olympic men’s and women’s road races will take place on Saturday, July 28, and Sunday, July 29, respectively.