New Essex venue confirmed for the London 2012 Games

Olympic racing at the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece.

Olympic racing at the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece. (Image credit: Tour of Japan)

The 2008 Olympic mountain bike race hasn't happened yet, but more details were revealed Monday about the venue for the 2012 Olympic mountain bike course in Great Britain. The London Organising Committee confirmed that subject to final contract negotiations, the venue for the Mountain Biking events will be at Hadleigh Farm, Essex.

The alternative site was chosen following the decision in January 2008 to move the competition away from The Weald Country Park in Essex after a change in requirements for the sport that resulted in the need to identify a more technical and challenging course.

This venue change for the Games has been approved by the International Cycling Union (UCI), British Cycling (BC), the International Olympic Committee, and the British Olympic Association.

The new venue covers a 550 acre site situated close to the village of Hadleigh, near Benfleet in Essex. The site encompasses grassland and woodland of Hadleigh Farm, land owned by the Salvation Army, and the surrounding countryside of Hadleigh Castle Country Park.

There are two major hill areas, separated by a valley which will create the technical climbs for the course to challenge the competitors from around the world in less than four years' time. The course will be set against the stunning backdrop of the 700 year-old ruins of Hadleigh Castle.

"It is testament to the hard work of everyone in involved that we have been able to confirm an alternative venue for the mountain biking competition only seven months after the venue change was announced," said Sebastian Coe, Chair of the Organizing Committee.

"In Hadleigh Farm we have a world class venue for Games time with the potential for an excellent facility for elite and community use post Games."

"The UCI is delighted with Hadleigh Farm and believe it will be a spectacular mountain biking venue for London 2012," said UCI President Pat McQuaid, who complimented the terrain and spectator opportunities.

"Our technical experts believe it meets all the requirements of an Olympic course with a range of elevations that will provide a challenging course for competitors."

Peter King, British Cycling CEO, pointed out another advantage, saying that the venue will be just 45 minutes from the Olympic Park.

Next steps for the London 2012 Organising Committee and Essex County Council include a four month period of detailed planning on the course layout and the temporary facilities required to host the event; securing contractual agreements between all parties; working with the local community on an engagement programme and the announcement in the autumn of the Cycling Competition Manager.

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