Posted Monday 5th August 2013 –
15,883 amateur cyclists finished the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 in central London yesterday making it the biggest cycling sportive ever held in the UK. Mayor of London Boris Johnson dropped a Union flag to set the cyclists on their way from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at 06:00 this morning before joining his wife Marina and the other 35 members of ‘Team Boris’, riding to raise money for the Mayor’s three charities.
The Mayor defied his doubters by completing the challenging 100-mile course in just over eight hours, and by 17:00 this afternoon 15,883 had pedaled beneath the finish gantry on The Mall.
“I was a sloth a lot of the way but it was a stunning, stunning thing and who would have thought Surrey could be so stunningly beautiful,” said Johnson, who crossed the line after eight hours and four minutes of cycling.
“I wouldn’t say it was a piece of cake but once we cracked Leith Hill I knew it was going to be okay.
“We are definitely going to see this again next year, whether you see me take part in it again next year is to be decided. It is a gradual step and the most important thing is to encourage people to cycle by making it safer.
“I hope the government will look at this and think what can we do around the country to get people onto the roads and make the roads safer.
“What is very encouraging about this is they way huge numbers of people are enjoying it. We want everybody to support cycling. It is a great thing for the city if you can get people off the road and onto bikes but we have got to keep making it safer.”
Johnson finished nearly six and a half hours behind Wladimiro D’Ascenzo of Italy, the first man to cross the line shortly after 10:00 this morning.
Waves of amateur cyclists rolled in behind the early finishers, some well-known faces among them, such as TV presenter Matt Barbet, who opened the Prudential RideLondon Cycling Show on Thursday, Matt Dawson from A Question of Sport, Olympic hurdles champion Sally Gunnell, Lee Latchford-Evans from 1990s pop group Steps, and Emmerdale soap stars Kelvin Fletcher and Jason Merrells.
Gunnell, who crossed the line in five hours 40, echoed many others in referring to the event as a great Olympic legacy.
“It was just unbelievable out there,” said Gunnell, who was riding for the Headway charity. “That’s what the Olympic legacy is all about.
“It is so well organised and there’s a fantastic atmosphere with all the supporters on the side of the road, and then with all the riders talking to each other and helping each other out.
“It’s just going to grow and grow and that is what we needed to do to keep that legacy growing. To put something on like this just shows how attitudes have changed, we have a real winning attitude in the country now. There are so many positives to come from it.”
James Cracknell was the quickest celebrity, finishing in 4:36, while Barbet rolled home in 4:48. Like many finishers Dawson couldn’t control his emotions after crossing the line in 6:11. Dawson was riding for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity after losing his grandfather to the disease as a teenager.
“That was absolutely fabulous,” said the 2003 England rugby union world cup winner. “The fans were awesome and the riders as well. Everyone was just looking after one another. It was a real inspiration.
“I had to dig in a bit on the hills. Leith Hill was brutal but we had a great team.”
Prudential RideLondon Event Director Hugh Brasher said the event had been a fantastic success.
“We are sure it has inspired countless people both watching on TV and on the route to get on their bikes and enter next year’s event. This truly is legacy in action.
“There are things to improve upon for next year. For example, the lead vehicle briefly went off route, taking the lead group of riders with it. We apologise to the riders involved and will be offering them free guaranteed places into next year’s event.”