Surrey

Habitat of 2012 Surrey road race route 'protected'

Mark Cavendish
Image caption The world's top riders will compete in the road race during the opening weekend of the Games

Olympic 2012 organisers have pledged to protect an area of natural beauty in Surrey when up to 50,000 spectators attend the cycling road race.

The 15.5km (9.6 mile) stretch of the circuit at Box Hill includes the National Trust's Zig Zag Hill.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) said it would respect the natural habitat.

Simon Lillistone, LOCOG's cycling road race manager, said it had a legal duty to protect the environment.

He said: "As a responsible organiser we have to respect the natural environment in which we are holding the race.

'Mass trampling'

"There are European laws and legislations that mean that we have to respect the habitats in that area."

The world's top riders will compete in the road race during the opening weekend of the Games and Team GB has high hopes of medals.

The race route takes cyclists from The Mall, through west London and then out to Surrey and back.

Andrew Wright, the National Trust countryside manager for East Surrey, said: "Those habitats are absolutely hallowed turf in terms of conservation.

"We have got a legal duty of care to ensure those rare plants and insects are managed and looked after."

Mr Wright said access would be restricted on some of the slopes.

"Mass trampling would be really bad news for some of these habitats," he added.

"We are working hard to find alternative areas on the route for people to enjoy the race."

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