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Brands Hatch to host Paralympic cycling events

Paralympic gold medallist Rachel Morris puts the Brands Hatch circuit through its paces

London 2012 organisers have announced the Paralympic road races and time trials will be held at Brands Hatch in Kent.

The motor racing circuit last hosted the British Formula One Grand Prix in 1986 but started out as a grass cycling track in the 1920s and is the last venue to be confirmed for next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Brands Hatch will be the base of approximately half of the course, including the start and finish, with the remainder of the race taking place on local roads.

While the Olympic road race will see a grandstand finish in front of Buckingham Palace on The Mall, organisers were forced to look elsewhere to meet the specific demands of Paralympic racing.

The venue, which will host 32 Paralympic road cycling events between 5-8 September 2012, has to be based on a technical loop course of 7-10km, with approximately 25 per cent of the course uphill but of not more than 6 per cent gradient, with a finishing straight wide enough to allow for bunch sprints.

But, after a long search which saw originally Richmond Park touted as a potential venue, UCI president Pat McQuaid has given Brands Hatch the thumbs up.

“The UCI are delighted with Brands Hatch as the location for the London 2012 Paralympic road cycling events,” said McQuaid.

“The combination of the motor racing circuit and local roads combine to provide a circuit that challenges the athletes and one that will undoubtedly create some spectacular races and worthy winners next summer.”

Two-hundred-and-twenty-five (155 male and 70 female) athletes from around 40 nations will participate in the road cycling events, which will consist of mass start road races ranging from 30km to 120km and individual and team time trials ranging from 20km to 35km.

“I’m extremely excited to potentially be competing at Brands Hatch,” said Paralympic gold medallist Rachel Morris. “Winning another gold medal but on home soil this time would just be fantastic.

“The course looks great and it will be a real test for athletes, promising a great show for spectators. I can’t wait to give it my best shot in under 500 days time.”

The events will largely be ticketed, costing £10 for adults, £5 for 16 and under and 60 and over, with further discounts for large groups. Part of the route will be free for spectators.

London 2012 chairman Lord Sebastian Coe added: “We are thrilled to be bringing such a high profile and exciting Paralympic sport here to Brands Hatch.

“This will help us extend the Games outside London and will give spectators and athletes the chance to discover yet another stunning part of our country.

“Our ParalympicsGB cycling team won 20 medals at the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008, including 17 gold, and I hope that this announcement will inspire and excite our Paralympians about competing here in under 500 days time.

“This venue will really bring the magic of the Games to life for thousands of spectators.”

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