RideLondon-Surrey 100 sportive 2016 route preview and highlights

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RideLondon-Surrey 100 sportive route preview: eight highlights from the course

What to expect on Britain's biggest sportive

The RideLondon-Surrey 100 is Britain’s biggest sportive and gives sportive riders the chance to take on some of the south east’s most iconic roads, closed to traffic and dedicated to two wheels for one day only.

This year’s event will take place on Sunday July 31 and will see more than 25,000 riders tackle the fast 100-mile course, which starts at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, before heading through central London, into Surrey for the climbs of Newlands Corner, Leith Hill and Box Hill, and then returning to the capital for a grandstand finish on The Mall.

Here’s our preview, with eight highlights from the 2016 RideLondon-Surrey sportive route.

The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 sportive will this year take place on Sunday July 31 (Pic: RideLondon)

Tower of London

On the morning of Sunday July 31, tens of thousands of cyclists will gather at first light in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park before setting off for a century. After a fast start through east London, the route cuts its way through the heart of central London on a veritable sightseeing tour of some of the capital’s most iconic sights, including the Tower of London. Riding through the centre of London, on roads normally clogged with vehicles, is an exhilarating experience.

Richmond Park

After heading west through Hammersmith and Chiswick, and crossing the River Thames, the route enters Richmond Park, and the first taste of countryside. Of course, this isn’t the countryside, but Richmond Park has long been a haven for London cyclists, with its (relatively) quiet, rolling roads, surrounded by ancient parkland and countless deer. On the RideLondon route, Richmond Park marks 20 miles in and the road will rise for the first time. Sawyers Hill is more of a drag than a climb, going up for around a mile at an average gradient of three per cent, but the road does edge close to ten per cent to warm the legs up for the rest of the ride.

Riders will get their first taste of the countryside as the pass through Richmond Park (Pic: Roz Jones)

Ripley

Bushy Park, where the first ‘hub’ is located with a feed station, toilets and mechanical support, comes soon after Richmond Park, and then the route makes a hasty exit out of London on wide roads. You’ll pass Hampton Court, where Sir Bradley Wiggins was crowned Olympic time trial champion in 2012, and through the suburbs of Molesey, Walton-on-Thames and Weybridge – a great opportunity to get sucked along in a group and get your average speed up for a fast century. By our reckoning, it’s after West Byfleet where the Surrey countryside truly begins and the road between Pyrford and Ripley is a beauty, climbing gently before descending (watch out for the sharp corner) towards and over the River Wey before continuing to the first significant climb of the day.

The event closes some of London and Surrey’s best roads to traffic for the day (Pic: RideLondon)

Newlands Corner

The first marked climb of the route is Newlands Corner. It’s a steady climb of around 1.1 miles at an average gradient of five per cent, on a fairly smooth, wide road – a chance to properly warm-up the legs before Leith Hill. The descent from Newlands Corner is fast and sees the route roll past the halfway mark at 50 miles. Inexperienced cyclists might begin to feel the pinch here but keep it steady – there’s still a long way to go.

Leith Hill

After descending from Newlands Corner on the A25, the route returns to smaller country lanes just past the pretty village of Gomshall. This is real Surrey now, surrounded by woodland and countryside. The route climbs slowly again for nearly three miles to Holmbury St. Mary – watch out for that one, the roads are heavy so don’t go too hard on this section with Leith Hill to come. Leith Hill is undoubtedly the hardest climb on the route. It’s nearly 1.5 miles long in all and averages six per cent, but the gradient really bites and gets above ten per cent. Take it steady at the bottom, it’s easy to blow up on this climb, and try and pick a careful line as the road can get busy with weaving cyclists during RideLondon. The road is steepest near the top so leave something in your legs as you reach the highest point in Surrey.

The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 takes in three climbs in the Surrey Hills (Pic: RideLondon)

Box Hill

By this point, with 65 miles in your legs, another climb may be the last thing your legs want but, in truth, there’s little to worry about with Box Hill, providing you haven’t burnt all of your matches earlier in the day. It’s a gentle climb, rising for 1.5 miles at around four to five per cent and the gradient never gets too taxing. Settle into a steady gear and enjoy the view from the zig-zags on the way up.

Box Hill may not be the toughest climb on the route but it offers superb views of the Surrey countryside (Pic: RideLondon)

Wimbledon Hill

After descending from Box Hill, the route turns back to London on fast, wide roads – a chance to spin out the legs after the punchy Surrey circuit. Just like the way out of London, it’s really beneficial to be in a group here as the roads are ideal for zipping along at a brisk pace. However, with the end seemingly in sight, it’s easy to get carried away. Keep eating and drinking – just as you should have done through the whole ride – and be prepared for one final sting in the tail: Wimbledon Hill. With more than 90 miles on the clock, this one can really hurt, particularly if you’re not expecting it. Wimbledon Hill may be less than half-a-mile long, but it’s relatively steep in places and, after the fast run-in from Box Hill, can come as a shock to the system.

The reward after 100 miles in the saddle is a grandstand finish in front of Buckingham Palace (Pic: RideLondon)

Houses of Parliament and The Mall

From the top of Wimbledon Hill, you’ll descend into Putney – work that lactic acid out of your legs from the climb – and from there all you’ll have ahead of you is five miles to the finish. Of course, with 95 miles in the legs, five miles can crawl by, but thankfully the road back into the centre of London is, once again, fast and flat. The reward? Flying past the Houses of Parliament, most likely cheered on by spectators lining the route, and a finish in front of Buckingham Palace on The Mall – muster everything you can for a sprint finish on one of Britain’s most iconic roads.

Sponsored by Continental Tyres, the official tyre of RideLondon 2016

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