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Up to a million people expected to line the course around London
There’s been no shortage of commentary surrounding the men’s road race at the upcoming London Olympic Games. Opinon has been divided over whether the race will come down to a bunch sprint or if perhaps Box Hill will split the race apart. One thing however is certain; the opening ceremony is just over a day away and the men’s race will kick off the following morning as first event of the entire Games.
"I arrived here on Sunday night and the papers here are just full of cycling," said UCI President and IOC member Pat McQuaid. "All of the IOC people were delighted that it [Bradley Wiggins' Tour victory] happened the week before the Games. They were opening the newspapers and seeing Wiggins, Wiggins, Wiggins."
London’s iconic scenery will be on show for the world to see and with cycling on a post-Tour de France high, there’s no better way to also showcase the sport.
"Road cycling has that opportunity, to portray the backdrop, to portray and pass-by the iconic buildings and the beautiful regions in whatever city that may be in," McQuaid said in a UCI release.
"In this case it's London. It starts in The Mall and goes straight passed Buckingham Palace and likewise that will be the finish at the end of the day," he said. "It’s passing some of the best places in London."
Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, both riding for the Sky team and representing Great Britain will be race’s centre of attention as Cavendish seeks to add an Olympic title to his impressive palmares.
"It would be great if it happened because it's another edition to this fairy-tale story," McQuaid told The Associated Press. "It would be great for cycling and great for the Olympic Games."
According to Pat McQuaid, crowds are set to flood the streets of London for the 250km race. This is in part due to the favourable circumstances that have led into the London Games. Cavendish also won the Olympic test event in London last year and McQuaid believes the popularity of cycling in Great Britain will be evident come race day.
"There will probably be the biggest crowd ever seen at an Olympic Games road race. I’m predicting something close to a million people could be on the roadside," he said in an official UCI release.
The women’s road race will be held on the Sunday following the men’s race and will cover 140km, riding two laps of the Box Hill circuit before heading back The Mall for the finish.