The Hadleigh Farm Mountain Bike International, a test event for the London 2012 Olympic Mountain Bike event and part of the London Prepares series, took place under sunny skies today in Essex today.
The test event attracted a sellout 5000 spectators who watched 82 athletes compete at the Olympic venue over the 4.6km course. With the women completing six laps, and the men seven laps, reigning Olympic Champion Julien Absalon from France led from the start to come out on top for the men, and Canadian Catharine Pendrel won the women’s race.
Behind Pendrel was Georgia Gould from the USA who finished 56 seconds behind the Canadian over the 28.1km course. Third place went to Julie Bresset from France who was one minute, 32 seconds behind Pendrel. In the men’s race Absalon had a comprehensive win finishing one minute, 20 seconds ahead of second place Christoph Sauser from Switzerland and one minute, 46 seconds ahead of third place rider Karl Markt from Austria.
British riders Lee Williams, Kenta Gallagher and Paul Oldham finished in 20th, 23rd and 27th respectively.
The event gave international riders the chance to race on the Olympic course for the first ever time and gave the London Olympic Games Organising Committe (LOCOG) the chance to test key parts of the event operations including field of play, workforce and transport.
Winner Catharine Pendrel praised the Hadleigh Farm course and the spectators: ”I was very happy with how it raced. If there were 80 girls on the course the corners would be a little tricky, but it raced really well and the spectators were awesome.”
Debbie Jevans, Director of Sport at LOCOG explained how well the event had gone: “This was an incredibly successful event. Putting on a test event is vital for us to test key elements of our operations. The event went very smoothly today, but we will still learn from the event and listen and work with the athletes to ensure we deliver the best possible Mountain Bike event at the Games next year.”
Cllr Stephen Castle, from Essex County Council said of the day: “We were delighted to welcome the world’s top riders and the 5000 spectators to our Olympic venue here at Hadleigh Farm. It was a thrilling day of competition and truly spectacular to witness how the elite athletes dealt with the technically challenging course, set against the breathtaking panoramic views of the Thames Estuary. This is fantastic for Essex and this event will put Essex firmly on the map as a great cycling destination”
More reports from the event soon…