London plans 'classic' cycle road race to rival European events

By John SinnottBBC Sport
Phil Liggett and Jonny Clay back plans for London 'classic' race

London plans to host a one-day professional road race to rival classic events such as the .

To be first staged in August 2013, the race will be part of a two-day cycling festival, which will become an annual event, as part of the .

London has to meet certain critera, but British Cycling's Jonny Clay said the race would "definitely" go ahead.

"I'd be surprised if in a few years it isn't one of the world's biggest cycling races," Clay told BBC Sport.

The Milan-San Remo is the first Classic of the season, with six more races taking place over March and April in Belgium, France and the Netherlands, culminating in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege on 24 April.

As with the London marathon - where elite runners and amateurs run the same course on the same day - the London road race will involve professional and amateur cyclists who will tackle a 100-mile route, starting in the Olympic Park and based on the 2012 Games cycle road race.

Cycling has a crowded calendar with the one-day classics taking place before the sport's major races such as the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France.

But British Cycling's cycle sport director Clay, who won a bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Games in the team cycling pursuit, insisted London's commercial pull will attract teams, riders and sponsors.

"Britain now leads the world in track cycling and I'm sure that will be reflected in the Olympics," said British cycling commentator Phil Liggett.

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"And after in Denmark and , he has the profile now, as does the sport.

"The obvious next step is to bring a major road race to the heart of London. We were going to see the Olympic road race and then silence for the years ahead, but that is not going to be happen now.

"We will eventually bring the best riders, who are household names now, to London.

"This is no longer a cinderella, cloth-cap image sport. It's a very highly financed professional business and we've got the best riders in the world."

A spokesman for the UCI, the sport's governing body, said: "[The] UCI is committed for the cycling development worldwide, and we are obviously very satisfied of such a project, but we do not know it in detail."