Olympic event set to come to Kingston in 2012

Kingston Guardian: Mark Cavendish winning the 20th stage of the Tour de France this year. Credit: TDWsport.com Mark Cavendish winning the 20th stage of the Tour de France this year. Credit: TDWsport.com

Olympic fever will hit Kingston when the men’s cycle road race passes through the borough on the opening weekend of the 2012 Games.

Kingstonians could cheer on cycling champion Mark Cavendish when cyclists are expected to race through on Saturday, July 28, the day after the opening ceremony.

Cavendish, who has won more stages in the Tour de France than any other Briton, is already a strong favourite to get the London Olympics off to a flying start with Britain’s first medal.

The course of the 240km (149 miles) event will be officially unveiled on Friday, November 19, when the International Olympic Committee Co-ordination Commission visits London.

James Beaumont of the Kingston Wheelers cycling group said: “We are still waiting for official confirmation of the route, but this is bound to be an exciting moment for the Olympics.

“Last time the race passed the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square – it is always a moment for the Games to showcase the local scenery and history.

“It is also a chance of the Games to step out of east London. For those of us on the other side of London, it is great news the races could well go by our doorstep.”

He said the group’s membership had thrived since Britain’s medal haul in 2008, and Kingston’s involvement, and more British medalists, could further boost the sport.

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Although the London 2012 organising committee held months of consultations over the route of the six-hour event, councils had to sign confidentiality agreements.

Councillor Simon James, the borough’s Olympic champion, said: “It would be nice for Kingston to get some of the events. The Games belong to all of London so if Kingston got some of that it would be nice for the people not to have to travel.

“We will certainly have the Olympic torch relay coming through Kingston and every other London borough.

“We would be looking to use the Olympics to encourage sport, but obviously if it comes through Kingston that would be better promotion.”

The organising committee confirmed the cycle race was the only event that might take place in Kingston, even if only for a few seconds.

The event will be payback for Kingston council taxpayers, who have been paying an Olympic levy of £20 to help fund the Games since 2006-07.

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