The time trial races at the London 2012 Olympic Games will start and finish at Hampton Court Palace, organisers revealed today. They'll be held on the fifth day of the Games, 1 August, and will be free events for spectators, with no tickets needed.
The women will cover 18 miles (29km), heading south-west past Esher towards the M25 before looping around at Cobham and heading back up to the palace. The men will ride an extended 27.3-mile (44km) route, with an extra loop at the start around the Bessborough and Knight reservoirs, and a second diversion towards Strawberry Hill just before they cross the line.
The racers, who'll set off at 90-second intervals, will ride through parts of Surrey, Kingston upon Thames and Richmond, passing landmarks including Hampton Court Bridge, Claremont Landscape Garden, St Mary's University College and the Diana Fountain in Bushy Park. You can view a full map of the route by clicking on the image below, and there are further details at the bottom of this article.
International Cycling Union Pat McQuaid said the UCI was "very pleased" with the course. "It has a wonderful historical backdrop for the start and finish in Hampton Court Palace, and the route covers some wonderful rolling Surrey countryside which is both physically and technically demanding," he said. "This will ensure the Olympic medals are well merited."
Reigning world time trial champion Emma Pooley, who won silver at the last Olympics, said she is already looking forward to training for the race, adding that it would be a great event for spectators. Seb Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), said: "We've worked closely with the UCI and our partners to ensure that we have the best possible sporting course for the athletes and we're confident of spectacular races and worthy winners."
Seb Coe, chairman of LOCOG, and Michael Day, chief executive of Historic Royal Palaces, launch the Olympic time trial routes at Hampton Court Palace
LOCOG will now work with local authorities, residents and businesses to finalise arrangements for the event. For more information, visit www.london2012.com/games/olympic-sports/cycling-road. Hampton Court will also be featured on the Olympic road race route, announced last month.
Men's time trial route
Riders will head south over Hampton Court Bridge and into Surrey, heading west on Hurst Road for a loop around Knights and Bessborough reservoirs before returning to East Molesey. They'll then head south on Hampton Court Way before riding along Weston Green Road and More Lane to Esher Green. The course then heads to Hersham and onto Burwood Road, where it enters into a hillier section.
From there, riders will head towards Cobham on Seven Hills Road and return to Esher, continuing along Portsmouth Road and entering Kingston upon Thames. The course passes through the Market Place and over Kingston Bridge into Richmond and then heads north to Teddington and Strawberry Vale, before returning south through Bushy Park to the finish on Hampton Court Way.
Women's time trial route
From the start in Hampton Court Palace, the women will head south over Hampton Court Bridge and join Hampton Court Way, avoiding the loop around Knights and Bessborough resevoirs. They'll then follow the same route as the men until they pass over Kingston Bridge, at which point they'll turn left and proceed along Hampton Court Road between Bushy Parks and Hampton Court Palace grounds to the finish.