Cyclists race in 2012 test event

Mark Cavendish celebrates his win in London

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Cavendish wins 2012 road test sprint

Organisers have hailed as a success the biggest test event yet for the 2012 Olympic Games, with some of the world’s top cyclists riding through London.

The London-Surrey Cycle Classic took the riders from The Mall in central London to Box Hill and back.

There were some reports of problems caused by widespread road closures and bus diversions along the route.

There was a bonus for estimated 100,000-strong home crowd, as British cyclist Mark Cavendish rode to victory.

Debbie Jevans, director of sport for London 2012 organising committee Locog, said she was “very, very pleased” with the way it went.

But there were some complaints on social networking websites about traffic problems and that the event was not televised.

Transport for London (TfL) had warned in advance that travel, including access to Heathrow airport and the M25, would be “severely affected”.

The closures were in effect until about 1500 BST on most of the roads.

Spectators lined parts of the 140km route Spectators lined parts of the 140km (87-mile) route

One traveller who contacted the BBC from Fulham Palace Road near the route said she had been stuck in heavy traffic for about three hours which eventually came to a standstill.

She said: “There are lots of security people saying they can’t move the bollards off the road until they’re told otherwise but they don’t seem to be making much effort to find out.

“People are sounding their horns, they can’t get through. It is a bit ridiculous. There’s no through route to get to where we live in south-west London.”

However, Transport for London’s Leon Daniels insisted there had been no “major” traffic disruption.

“A huge amount of communication to Londoners, particularly those along and near the route, has been undertaken to make clear that transport, particularly on the roads, would be severely affected today and that people should plan their travel in advance,” he said.

Ms Jevans said: “Like all of the events in our testing programme, we are here to learn. We have clearly taken the feedback and will continue to do so.

“Following this we have a very detailed debrief with the international federations, their technical delegates and commissioners that travelled the route with us. They will give us detailed feedback on the field of play.”

She added: “All in all, we are very, very pleased with how it went. It was very rewarding to see the response of the athletes.”

Free event

Thousands of spectators who lined the course to get an idea of what the Olympics will be like saw Tour de France green jersey winner Mark Cavendish win in three hours 18 minutes 11 seconds.

After his victory, Cavendish said: “The crowd were incredible the whole way.

“You can’t get a sense of how the 2012 race will go, but you can get a feel for this course and the route is good.”

The race started at The Mall before heading through west London and into Richmond Park.

The cyclists then passed Hampton Court Palace, Walton-on-Thames, Guildford and Dorking before two circuits of Box Hill in Surrey, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

They returned through Esher and Kingston upon Thames before the home leg back to The Mall. The route passed through six London boroughs and four royal parks.

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London 2012 – Begin your journey here

London view

Sacha Modolo of Italy was second and France’s Samuel Dumoulin third among the 145-strong field.

The 140km (87-mile) race was one of a series of Olympic test events that have taken place this week as a dry run for the real thing next year.

It went ahead despite concerns this week about police resources after rioting around England.

The route of the one-off race was shorter than the one the men will tackle at the Olympics.

In 2012, seven more large loops will extend the men’s race to 155 miles (250km), while the women’s will still be 87 miles (140km).

The Olympic cycling road race is among the events that will be free to attend at London 2012.

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