The massively popular Prudential RideLondon takes place this weekend. 100,000 cyclists will be hitting the roads – many of which will be closed across London and Surrey – as part of the world’s greatest festival of cycling.
We caught up with Clare Dewey who lives on the course and is the founder of Epic Road Rides, the travel website for road cyclists. Clare shared her insights on the RideLondon events not to be missed, where to watch them and who to look out for in the Saturday and Sunday’s elite races …
If you’re into cycling, this is your chance to see some of cycling’s superstars in action. Both the men and women’s professional races are at World Tour level. This is the highest grading on the world cycling calendar and means some of the world’s best riders will be racing.
The Prudential RideLondon festival includes eight rides/races, four on Saturday and four on Sunday. The main three events are the two pro races (women on Saturday, men on Sunday) and the 100 mile mass participation RideLondon-Surrey (Sunday).
Spectating at RideLondon is absolutely free. However, with this many people around, finding the best spot to spectate is important! Read on to find out:
– When to watch
– The best place to watch
– Riders to look out for
Women’s pro race: Prudential RideLondon Classique. Saturday 28 July, Central London. 5pm to 6.45pm.
If we had to pick just one event to watch, it would be this women’s crit race. It should be buzzing!
This race has all the ingredients for being an awesome spectator event. 12 laps of a fast 5.4km circuit that starts and finishes on The Mall. It’s the most lucrative one-day race in women’s cycling (€100,000 prize pot), with sponsor-friendly live TV coverage. Lots of the big names in women’s cycling will be here, from Finland’s Lotta Lepisto who was runner-up last year in the race to the 2012 Olympic road race champion Marianne Vos.
Where to watch?
Spectating anywhere on the 5.4km loop around St James’s Park is going to be a treat as the race will be coming past 12 times! Take a look at the purple line on this map for more details. The key will be getting close to the barriers in readiness for the 5pm start.
The FreeCycle event (the black line on the map) will be on the women’s pro course until 4pm. This means there is likely to be a flood of people leaving the FreeCycle and taking up their place at the barrier at 4pm, so you’ll want to try and bag your place before then.
Who to look out for?
Last year’s women’s Classique race was won by Team Sunweb’s Coryn Rivera (main picture). The reigning champion would love to defend her title but will face stiff competition from, among others, the aforementioned Finish star Lotta Lepisto. She will be riding for Cervelo-Bigla Pro Cycling Team and looking to go one better than her second place in 2017. All-time great and reigning European champion Marianne Vos will be many people’s favourite to take the spoils while her WaowDeals ProCycling teammate Dani Rowe – a track gold medallist for Team GB at the 2012 Olympics – will be fired up to take the win in front of a home crowd after finishing third in the Women’s Tour earlier this year.
Men’s pro race: Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic. Sunday 29 July, London and Surrey. 1.30pm to 6.15pm.
Mark Cavendish– the most successful sprinter in cycling history – headlines a stellar cast of riders taking part in the 2018 edition of the Classic. 25 teams of six riders will set off on the 125 mile (200 km) route from Horse Guards Parade and race over much of the same route as the mass participation Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 (see below). The main difference is that the pros do two extra loops over Category 2 climb, Ranmore Common.
Where to watch?
The course for the mass participation 100 mile route and the pro route are very similar. With the pro race on after the mass participation event, you could take up your position and make a day of it! This is our pick of places to spectate from.
The pro race starts at 1.30pm and if you’re keen to get extended sightings of the pros, head to the start area on Horse Guards Parade next to St James’s Park. You’ll be able to see the riders signing on and getting ready. The race will also be shown on a big screen in Green Park.
The first and last few miles of the race is through central London. These following tube stations on the Piccadilly Line are within a 5 minute walk of the route: Piccadilly, Green Park, Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, South Kensington, Gloucester Road, Earls Court and Barons Court.
When the riders arrive: amateur cyclists from 6am onwards, pro race 1.30pm onwards (start) and around 5.30pm (finish).
Dorking High Street
Dorking is probably the best location for spectators: 25,000 riders pass through in the morning and then in the afternoon, the pros ride through four times. There will also be street entertainment and two big screens showing the live coverage.
Dorking High Street and some nearby roads will be closed for most of the day, but Dorking’s three train stations are an easy walk to the town centre. The shops, restaurants and cafes will be open; you’re likely to find a buzzing atmosphere.
You can find detailed information on accessing Dorking and car parking, here.
When the riders arrive: amateur cyclists from 8.10am onwards, pro race 3.50pm to 4.55pm.
Ranmore Common near Dorking
If you’re only interested in seeing the pros and are after a more rural spot to watch from, we think Ranmore Common is a good pick.
It’s at the top of a Cat 2 climb that the pros will ride up twice. You’re likely to see some suffering and it’s the sort of hill that might be used to launch an attack. With wide green verges, it would make a nice spot for a picnic.
The road will only be closed from 2.30pm until 5pm and early arrival is recommended as parking will be limited.
When the riders arrive: pro race 4pm to 4.30pm.
Who to look out for?
Last year’s race was won by Norwegian Alexander Kristoff in a thrilling sprint finish on the Mall with Magnus Cort second and Australia’s Michael Matthews third. Neither Kristoff or Cort are racing this year however Matthews is recovered from the illness that beset him during the Tour de France and has a great chance. Like Coryn Rivera, Matthews rides for Team Subweb; could they make it a podium double-act?! Competition will be fierce in the Classic with some of the world’s fastest finishers including Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) and Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) on the start line. And they’ll all have to beat a certain Mark Cavendish, riding for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka and a legend in the sport. With 146 professional victories to his name including 48 Grand Tour wins the Manx Missile is sure to be in the mix at the finish on The Mall.
Mass participation: Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100. Sunday 29 July. 5.45am to 5.40pm.
This is the main non-pro event of the weekend. Around 25,000 amateur cyclists ride on closed roads through London and Surrey on a similar route to that of the London 2012 Olympic road races.
The ride starts in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, goes out through London to Surrey’s stunning country roads and hills before returning to finish on The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace.
Where to watch?
See our tips for the men’s pro race above, but note that this course doesn’t include Ranmore Common.
Who to look out for?
Friends and family will be your main focus (and there is an app you can download to help know where they are on the course). There are also lots of celebrities taking part, including singer Lemar, former England rugby players Martin Johnson and Rory Underwood, as well as retired cycling pro Emma Pooley.
Looking forward to RideLondon?
We hope so! And that you’ll also be inspired to get out and ride your bike! Check out the Epic Road Rides website for free, independent information on the best places to ride worldwide including routes (plus free GPX downloads), where to stay, when to go and bike hire; everything you need to plan an unforgettable cycling trip. And if RideLondon leaves you keen to ride more of Surrey our free guide to cycling the Surrey Hills is what you need. Take a look!
Thanks Clare and here’s to an exciting weekend of action with plenty more cycling to come in 2018. The European Cycling Championships – with track, road, BMX and mountain biking taking place simultaneously – are set to thrill the crowds as part of Glasgow 2018 while Six Day London returns in October 2018 and the UCI Track Cycling World Series promises to be a spectator highlight in December. Be sure to follow the @sportonspec and @sportonspecLDN social media channels for regular updates and ticket news.