Cycling fans barred from summit of the London 2012 Road Race

Dress rehearsal is overshadowed as Games chiefs are criticised over Box Hill route

Mark Cavendish , fresh from his green-jersey triumph at the Tour de France, will lead the British team tomorrow in a test race for the 2012 Olympic cycling road race.

Click HERE to upload graphic - The Battle of Box Hill (276.05kB)

But a row between London's Olympic organisers and cycling fans looks set to sour the event.

Elite cyclists will ride the Olympics route, starting and finishing on The Mall in London through Hampton Court Palace. In Surrey, the course takes in two laps of Box Hill, a focal point of the race and a climb relished every Sunday by scores of amateur cyclists. But unlike the Tour de France, where thousands of fans are free to line the route and get up close to the riders, many fans will not be able to cheer the cyclists as they tackle the hill tomorrow, or at the Olympics next year.

"Keep out" signs and large metal fences have appeared in the areas surrounding the hill, and access to the best vantage point and the steepest part of the race – the "Zig-Zag Road" – is restricted.

The restrictions stem from Box Hill's status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest ( SSSI). The discovery of a species of butterfly and the protection of orchids in the area have led Natural England, the government's adviser on the natural environment, to impose limits on the numbers of people allowed there.

Cycling fans have criticised Locog for not checking this with landowners before planning the route, leaving many fans disappointed that they will be excluded from the best part of the race. Just 3,400 wristband holders will be allowed inside a specially constructed enclosure. "In Europe, at events like the Tour de France, you just turn up and stand at the side of the road all day and watch the race," said Simon Richardson, deputy editor of Cycling Weekly.

"The road race is always the big free event at the Olympics," he added. "Box Hill is the main part, and they've restricted it. Lots of people who have missed out on tickets can't go and watch in the prime spot. The Olympic Road Race, the event that offers the first medal of the Games in 2012, could set a tone of exclusion and resentment."

Locog said that only a small part of Box Hill would be restricted, and that efforts have been made to ensure these seats go to cycling fans. An allocation of tickets will be distributed through cycling magazines and through the British Cycling – the national governing body for the sport.

A spokesperson said: "The 140km route is a challenging route which will produce an exciting race for spectators to watch for free. One area in Box Hill, specifically the Zig Zag Road, will have restricted access as it is heavily protected by the National Trust. The wider Box Hill area will have spectator access. We encourage people to watch this [weekend's] great international sporting event which is a dress rehearsal for the 2012 Games."

Locog faced similar criticism in June following a decision to fence off a public park which will have a view of Olympic sailing events next year. In June Locog applied for planning permission to fence off Nothe Gardens in Weymouth, Dorset, where it would charge for tickets.

If approved, the plan would close off 40,000 square metres of public space. Locog claimed the plan would aid "safety and crowd control". But that was branded "nonsense" by local councillor John Birtwistle.

He said: "The bottom line is that they are trying to make Olympic sailing a pay-per-view event in Weymouth."

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas