London will host a two-day cycling festival from August 2013 as part of the Olympic legacy, Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said.
The first day is aimed at cyclists of all ages and abilities and it’s hoped up to 70,000 people will cycle an eight mile traffic-free loop around the city. The second day, starting in the Olympic Park, will see up to 35,000 amateur, club and world-class cyclists tackle a 100-mile route largely based on the Olympic road race. It will be the first large scale event to make use of the park when it re-opens next summer.
Mr Johnson announced the plans in a speech to business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos today. The ambition is to make it one of the world’s leading cycling events and the participant numbers proposed for the sportive would put it on the path to towards that.
"This spectacular event will help ensure that the 2012 Games are just the start, not the end of the benefits of hosting the Olympics,” said Mr Johnson. “We are already creating long lasting opportunities for the Park and the capital, which will showcase London to the world, attract more visitors, create more jobs and support the economy."
The mayor’s office said it hopes the festival will provide a long-term source of income for improving cycling infrastructure in London, bringing in tens of millions of pounds through participation, spectating and worldwide television audiences, with over 200,000 people coming from outside the city. Supporters of the festival include British Cycling and reigning world champion Mark Cavendish.
“British Cycling has been involved in this exciting project right from the beginning,” said Brian Cookson, President of British Cycling. “It fits in really well with the range of our activities, from leisure cycling right through to elite level competition. The time is right for this event, with burgeoning ‘sportive’ participation levels demonstrating the mass appeal of our sport. This event will celebrate the new place of cycling in British culture, right in the heart of the capital."
Plans for the festival resemble the "London Marathon on Wheels" first mooted in April of last year. That event proposed 30,000 elite and amateur cyclists tackling several different routes including the Olympic road race route and like the marathon, it would have been televised and on closed roads.
Updated: London & Partners, the firm who will work with the chosen delivery partner to deliver the festival, have confirmed that the 100-mile sportive will be held on traffic-free roads.