The United Kingdom looks set to stage its biggest ever one-day race next August with plans already in motion for the RideLondon Classic to take place in the English capital. Stakeholders include the organisers of the Tour of Britain and the London Mayor's office, while the UCI look set to determine if the race will be awarded a 1.1 status on the calendar. A provisional date of August 4th and a 200-225 kilometre route are close to being confirmed.
"It’s a new event on the calendar so there are specific regulations but we're looking at it being a 1.1 event in the first year, hopefully," Tour of Britain organiser and mastermind behind the Classic, Mick Bennett, told Cyclingnews.
"We're looking at attracting WorldTour teams and there's a certain system and number of WorldTour teams we can have. We'll be discussing that with the teams during the Tour of Britain. That race is the perfect vehicle to talk about RideLondon and promote."
The RideLondon Classics forms part of a greater project to encourage more of the UK's population to take up cycling. The professional race coincides with a 'Freecycle' which will aim to attract 70,000 cyclist onto an 8-mile loop through central London. There will also be an invitational set of criteriums for Women's Elite, hand-cycles and youth groups. The RideLondon 100 Challenge will set off before the professionals on August 4th and organisers expect 20,000 riders.
The Classic is set to be formally announced in September but Bennett, who also organised the Kellogs Tour and Leeds and Rochester Classics in the 1990s gave an insight into the race route. "It's based a lot on the Olympic route but it's only once up Box Hill on the way to the finish. In the middle we'll have a 25k loop that RideLondon will do once but the pros will do five or six times. I can't give too much away on the route as it's still being planned out," he told Cyclingnews.
Bennett is an experienced organiser and he will be all too aware of the dearth of cycling races in the United Kingdom, having seen the Rochester Classic pulled from the old UCI World Cup. However he argued that the landscape within the United Kingdom, not just London, is unrecognizable from the 1990s.
"You've got to think about the stakeholder buying what we've got. I remember promoting the Kelloggs Tour and the Leeds Classic and we're in a completely different environment and pushing on different doors now. There's a swell of support for cycling in this country with the mayor's office behind it, the executive of Surrey and all the London boroughs.
"They now really get what our wonderful sport of cycling is all about. Local authorities are asking us to take events to them, rather than when the Leeds Classics was on, and we were going cap in hand and educating them about cycling. This could not have happened at a better time with Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour, the Olympics and the successful medal haul. What a time."