NEWS | Weekly Review
Battle for Box Hill
adviser on the natural environment, as a reason for the limitation. Yet it has emerged that LOCOG failed to contact these interested parties before planning the route; Surrey County Council indicated that it was only involved late in the process (see page 16).
RESTRICTIONS IMPOSED DUE TO WILDLIFE CONCERNS
Box Hill declared ‘limited access’ for Olympic road race
Zig Zag: protected zone for the Olympics
Andy McGrath AFTER missing out on the vast majority of track cycling tickets, prepare to be shortchanged at the Olympic road race: you’ll need to wear a wristband to get anywhere near the best bits. The London-Surrey Cycle Classic (August 14), the test event for the 2012 Olympic road race, provides a taste of the restrictions imposed on would-be spectators on two key parts of the route. According to a press
release from LOCOG (London have capacities of 3,500 and Organising Committee of 3,400 respectively. the Olympic and Paralympic The restrictions stem Games), restrictions will be from Box Hill’s status as a imposed on the grandstands protected SSSI (Site of Special at the Mall for the Scientific Interest). “LOGOC race’s start/finish A new species failed to and on the Zig Zag of butterfly was Road at Box Hill, the contact these recently discovered, jewel in the crown of partiesbefore meaning there will planning the Surrey circuit. be one restricted the route” There are to be area, according to fences and barriers LOCOG spokesperson on the restricted part Emma Pickles. The of the climb, with security protection of orchids has enforcing the area. also been cited, by Natural The Mall and Box Hill will England, the government’s
CW understands that the wristbands required to access key parts of the course will be made available through application to local councils and British Cycling, as well as from British cycling magazines. “We wanted to make sure that people from the cycling community will be able to attend,” Pickles said. Spectator areas on Box Hill for non-wristband holders will be limited. For the London-Surrey Cycle Classic, the view on to the Mall will also be restricted to replicate the grandstand seating in force for the Olympic road race. Considering the abundance of similar climbs in the area, we asked LOCOG: why choose Box Hill, given its known status as an SSSI and the subsequent likely restrictions on access? “It’s a really good technical aspect and great visually from a broadcast point of view. It [the restricted area] is only a small area of Box Hill; Box Hill is huge,” Pickles said. Unfortunately, the thousands who want to watch on the beauty spot’s slopes look set to be left out.
LOCOG’S POOR PLANNING
Photos: Rob Lampard
Comment by Will Irwin
THE Olympic road race is one of the most mouthwatering prospects for London 2012. Who could fail to be itching for a free roadside seat on beautiful Box Hill next year? But the vast majority may well miss out again. Instead, we will get a grade-A lesson in organisational incompetence, elitism that is a distant departure from Olympian values, and, most importantly, no opportunity to see any Olympic cycling at all in 2012. That so-called “small restricted july 14, 2011
area” on the hill is also the best bit of the climb — the only part worth standing on — where the riders won’t be tearing past at 30mph. LOCOG has failed to do its homework on the status of Box Hill. International law dictates that large numbers of spectators would never have been able to visit the climb, yet they didn’t bother to check. This adds insult to injury after the debacle that saw so many missing out in the lottery for velodrome tickets. The Olympics was founded in the best Corinthian sporting spirit. It has
1998 Prutour: last pro race on Box Hill its own charter, all about participation and legacy, apparently. The organisers need to take a long look at the Box Hill scenario, and ask themselves whether the situation they’ve engineered really represents those values. The answer is an emphatic no.