London 2012: Cycling festival to promote Olympic legacy

Olympic Park, Stratford
Image caption A weekend of "wheel-based" activities will be held in the Olympic Park in support of the cycling festival

London is to host a two-day cycling festival next year, which will become an annual event, as part of the Olympic legacy, mayor Boris Johnson has said.

It will be the first large-scale event to make use of the Olympic Park in east London after it reopens next summer.

Day one will involve a family ride on traffic-free roads in central London.

Amateur and professional cyclists will tackle a 100-mile route, starting in the Olympic Park and based on the 2012 Games cycle road race, the next day.

Mr Johnson is due to make a speech to business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos later when he will describe his ambition to create one of the world's leading cycling events in the capital in August 2013.

Cycling heritage

Talking about the festival, he said: "This spectacular event will help ensure the 2012 Games are just the start, not the end, of the benefits of hosting the Olympics.

"We are already creating long-lasting opportunities for the park and the capital which will showcase London to the world, attract more visitors, create more jobs and support the economy."

Image caption Cycling World Champion Mark Cavendish has endorsed the event

The first day of the festival will be aimed at all ages and abilities and designed to promote the fun of cycling in London.

It is hoped up to 70,000 people will cycle on an eight-mile (13km) traffic-free loop taking in the capital's iconic roads and landmarks.

On the second day organisers expect up to 35,000 amateur, club and world class elite cyclists to race a 100-mile (161km) challenge course.

It will be largely based on the route of the 2012 Games cycle road race, incorporating the Surrey countryside, and finish at an iconic location in central London.

Mark Cavendish, current cycling world champion, said: "This is the ideal legacy not only for our world-class team of cyclists and paracyclists, but also for thousands of amateur cyclists who will hopefully be inspired by our performance at the Olympic Games.

"This event will be a fantastic opportunity to show Britain at its best and to share our Olympic cycling heritage."

'Beautiful parkland'

The mayor's office said the international promotion associated with what will become an annual cycling festival would bring millions of pounds of economic benefit into London through national and international participation, spectators and worldwide TV audiences.

It is hoped it will provide a long-term source of income for improving conditions for cycling in London and provide opportunities for other cycling initiatives.

The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) has also now confirmed that the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will open in phases from July 2013 to allow people back into the park as soon as possible after work is completed to return it to public use.

As part of the cycling festival it will organise a weekend of "wheel-based activities" on the park with the aim of bringing local communities together through competitions, workshops, music, food and film.

Margaret Ford, chairwoman of the OPLC, said: "The London Cycling Festival is just the kind of event that fits into the family ethos of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

"Thousands of people will get the chance to enjoy our most beautiful parkland in an event that will bring people together and encourage healthy living."

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