4 Aug 2011
Thousands of spectators watched the world’s best riders compete in the Hadleigh Farm Mountain Bike International on Sunday 31 July.
The sold-out event attracted 5,000 spectators who watched 82 athletes compete at the test event, allowing the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) to test key aspects of its operations in preparation for next year’s Games.
As temperatures reached 25c, spectators – around 70% of which were local residents, basked in the sunshine, as they witnessed reigning Olympic champion Julien Absalon from France win the men’s race and Canadian Catharine Pendrel take the gold in the women’s.
Cllr Stephen Castle, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Education and the 2012 Games commented, “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 event will put Essex firmly on the map as a great cycling destination”
Between races spectators were kept entertained as British Cycling offered the under 16’s the chance to have a go at cycling at their ‘Go Ride’ sessions, where British Cycling were also presented with an ‘Inspire mark’ award from Katie Huane, Regional Project Manager for 2012 Olympic and Paralympics games for Nations and Regions East, after launching their ‘Race Makers’ project to encourage young people to organise cycling events in their local communities. Crowds were also ‘wowed’ by BMX stunt displays.
Local resident Carla Williams, of Leigh-on Sea commented, “We had such a wonderful day at the test event, not only was the sun shining, but the venue is spectacular and really allows spectators to get up close the sport, as you can roam around the outskirts of the track to get the best view of the race. The whole day was a treat with so many attractions going on for us - it really shows off Essex at its best!”
On the day, Essex County Council recruited 50 Essex Ambassador volunteers to help out at the Hadleigh event with greeting and directing spectators to the venue. Essex County Council will shortly be opening applications to recruit 400 Essex Ambassadors to help out at next year’s Games.