London 2012: Surrey's Box Hill 'to decide cycle race'

Denise Saliagopoulos and Ken Whelpdale on Box Hill
Image caption Ken Whelpdale said the US team had studied GPS data and was prepared for the Surrey part of the race

The 2012 Olympic cycle road race will be won or lost on the Box Hill climb in Surrey, the leader of the US Olympic cycling team has said.

Ken Whelpdale visited the county to study the route as part of the US preparations for London 2012.

He said the team had studied GPS data and knew what they had to do to make it nine times around Box Hill and finish in London.

The race takes cyclists through London and then out to Surrey and back again.

'Fabulous roads'

It includes a 9.6 mile (15.5km) circuit around Box Hill and the National Trust's Zig Zag Hill.

Mr Whelpdale said: "We are prepared. Of course the climb is always interesting because it's dynamic. So the first part of the climb will be by far our favourite part and that's where the race will be made."

He added: "Surrey has been amazing for our training needs and the roads have been fabulous. It's good for our preparations."

Image caption The race takes cyclists through London and then out to Surrey and back again

The US squad will be using Surrey as its training base.

Mr Whelpdale predicted that the work the US will be doing in Surrey would be "a big advantage coming into the games".

He told Surrey councillor Denise Saliagopoulos, who is overseeing the county's involvement in the games, that people who took part in last year's test event were "unbelievable".

He said: "It was just like the Tour de France - maybe even bigger. There were so many people on the roads when it was five and six deep.

"You just don't see that at road races all over the world, so it was pretty special."

Mrs Saliagopoulos said: "Training in Surrey is sure to give cyclists the inside track."

Adding that British, Canadian and Australian cyclists were also training in the county, she said: "So far a total of 15 Olympic and Paralympic nations have signed up to train in Surrey."

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