By Ben Atkins in London
Chelsea Football Club's Stamford Bridge stadium was the venue for a presentation of the 2008 route for the London to Paris Cyclosportive (L2P) event. Billed as "the professional event for amateurs", the L2P will be divided into three stages of around 200km on its journey between the two capitals from June 26-29.
Previous editions headed southwest to cross the English Channel from Portsmouth. This year's British stage however, will start from the grounds of Henry VIII's Hampton Court Palace and run in a south easterly direction to Dover; taking in the climb of Goudhurst Hill that featured in stage one of the 2007 Tour de France. The race will head for northern France via an overnight ferry to Calais.
The second stage will head east along the coast before turning southwards to take in some of the cobbles featured in the legendary Paris-Roubaix. It will continue to finish in the Somme department capital of Amiens. Stage three, the next day, heads almost due south to Paris; passing the Arc de Triomphe to finish under the Eiffel Tower.
As a cyclosportive ride, the L2P is not a race, but will feature rolling road closures in the French stages and the peloton will be escorted by outriders from the National Events Group in Britain. Nevertheless, there will be jerseys awarded for best climber, best sprinter and an overall classification, although the overall competition will only begin once the event has crossed the channel. There will be four different groups on the road, divided by ability and experience, but only those in the front will be able to challenge for the jerseys.
After managing to attract classics legends Sean Kelly and Johan Museeuw, this year's event also boasts a bevy of stars. Steven Roche, the 1987 Giro, Tour and World champion leads an all-star cast that will also include former single-day specialist Max Sciandri and former British champion turned TV-pundit Brian Smith. As well as these names from cycling, Olympic champion rower James Cracknell – who since retiring has taken part in a number of cycling and other endurance challenges – will be riding.