Olympic road cycling route revealed
The 2012 Olympic cycling road race will begin and end in The Mall, it has been revealed.
The world's top riders will compete in the opening weekend of the Games and Team GB has high hopes of medals.
The race route takes cyclists from The Mall, through west London and then out to Surrey and back.
Sprint cyclist Mark Cavendish said competing at a home Olympics would be a "once in a lifetime opportunity".
The race cuts through Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham to cross the River Thames at Putney Bridge.
Riders will speed through Richmond Park, back across the Thames at Richmond Bridge before passing through Bushy Park, Hampton Court Palace and into Surrey.
From Richmond the athletes head off on a large loop through Surrey taking in Walton on Thames, Weybridge, West Byfleet, West Horsley and Dorking.
This is where a 15.5km (9.6 miles) circuit around Box Hill, including the National Trust's Zig Zag Hill, kicks in, according to London 2012.
Map of the route
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This loop is repeated several times to help make up the approximately 240km (149 miles) distance for the men's race and the 130km (80.78 miles) course for the women's competition.
The pack then heads back to London through Leatherhead, Esher, Hampton Court, Kingston and Richmond Park before using the same route back to The Mall.
Cavendish, who won his 15th Tour de France stage last year, is already looking forward to his Olympic challenge.
"Competing in a home Olympic Games is a once in a lifetime opportunity," he said.
"To compete in the road race on the opening day of the London 2012 Games in front of home fans is going to be amazing.
"I look forward to checking out the course in detail and to experiencing the well-known cycling terrain in Surrey through to the finish on The Mall."
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Surrey County Council's Denise Saliagopoulos said: "The county council has been working closely with London 2012 organisers to bring the road races to Surrey for many months.
"The events will provide a huge boost to the economy and focus the eyes of the world on Surrey during the opening weekend of the Olympic Games."
Terence Patrick, councillor responsible for the Olympics at Guildford Borough Council, said: "We are very pleased to be part of these spectacular racing events during the opening weekend of the Olympic Games. They will attract many visitors and athletes to our area, providing a significant boost to the local economy."
The new route, which has changed from London's original bid, has been signed off by the international cycling federation (UCI), the International Olympic Committee and the London boroughs the race covers.
Some small areas of road will need resurfacing to get it up to scratch for elite racing but it will not be a wholesale resurfacing or roads, organisers predict.