Could Greenwich get a cycle marathon?

Remember when the Tour de France came to town nearly four years ago? According to the Evening Standard, a cycle race through London could become a regular event, if Boris Johnson has his way…

Boris Johnson is planning to emulate the success of the London Marathon by staging the world’s largest timed bike race in the capital.

Up to 30,000 amateur riders would take to the streets in what the Mayor has billed as the “London Marathon on Wheels”, scheduled for 2013

The plan’s based on the Cape Argus/ Pick and Pay tour in South Africa, a 109km race around Cape Town which attracts 31,000 riders each year. It’d follow in the tracks of next year’s Olympic road race, which starts at the Mall and runs out to Box Hill in Surrey and back again.

Of the four routes under consideration, according to the Standard, one would start at Greenwich and head out into Kent, as the Tour de France did, before heading back into London. Another could use the North and South Circular Roads, potentially meaning a route through Woolwich, Eltham and Catford. Other routes would follow the Olympic course, as well as one from the Olympic Park out to Essex.

It’s an exciting possibility, but also very typically Boris – going for the big publicity around cycling, but neglecting run-of-the-mill cycling infrastructure. Hopefully if this goes ahead, and a SE London route gets picked, the Standard won’t rubbish it like it did with the marathon a couple of years ago.

Greenwich is, of course, already a proud host of the London Marathon (a few moaners aside) – which is just a week and a bit away – although has a less easy relationship with the gimmicky Run To The Beat half-marathon, imposed on the area a few years ago with little consultation. (And did you know Race For Life is coming to the peninsula next month, as well as to Blackheath?) Can we make room for another big, fun, sporting event?

Bring it on, I say. But where would be a good route? It’d be no good for crowds, but a huge peleton of cyclists taking over the Blackwall Tunnel approach road would be worth seeing…


  1. Where to start!? Has anything Boris ever said been properly thought through.

    I’ll stick to one element of this. UCI sanctions very few sportives (mass participation rides like Pick n Pay in SA). They are high profile sporting endeavours, run to professional levels. The idea that a pootle round some dirty south London streets and the Downs will be their equal is stretching credibility.

    By all means extend the Freewheel/Skyride franchise or have a Mayor’s charity ride. More mass participation stuff is fab. It gets bums on saddles. But Boris, stop over-egging the pudding.

  2. The Cape Argus (strictly speaking, the Cape Argus Pick’n’Pay Cycle Tour)may start in Cape Town, but it heads off along the Atlantic, climbing spectacularly towards the Cape of Good Hope.I’m not sure the Blackwall Tunnel approach would really replicate the experience.It’s a nice ride out to Box Hill though.

  3. Last night, down at the Council, we had the last meeting of the Best Value Cycling Review. Cllr. Haley Fletcher and I took the opportunity of raising the possibilities for Greenwich which you mention here. Council staff were – shall we say – interested – to hear what you said.
    – and – Darryl- that’s a lovely little clip, but why are some of the cyclists going backwards??

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