The weekend’s Prudential RideLondon event has been declared the UK’s largest ever mass participation cycling event, with 15,883 cyclists, including the Mayor of London completing a 100-mile race from Surrey to London.
“This is a great day for cycling, and for this city,” Johnson said. “I want to thank the organisers and the wonderful crowd who made all the difference as we cycled by, helping to spur me on to finish the gruelling 100 miles in a respectable eight hours.
“Huge congratulations to everyone who took part – Prudential RideLondon is now firmly on the map as one of the greatest cycling events in the world.”
24 hours hours prior, 50,000 recreational riders took to the closed streets of central London as part of the Prudential RideLondon Freecycle, with olympian Laura Trott, the event’s ambassador went on to win the first Prudential RideLondon Grand Prix. Overall, more than 65,000 cyclists attended the debut event.
91-year-old Betty Tingle from East Sussex was just one of those taking part, alongside 16 other family members.
She said of the event: “I’ve been cycling all my life, so it’s fantastic to see all these people here. I met my husband through cycling. He used to wait for me to catch him up; now all my family are at it. It (RideLondon) shows that if the traffic is gone, people will come out on their bikes. It shows if we create more cycle paths, routes to schools, paths in parks and so on, then people do want to cycle more.”
Mayor of London boris Johnson, who dubbed his participation in the ride as ‘operational chiselled whippet’, completed the race in just over eight hours. He also thanked a ‘good Samaritan’ who helped fix a puncture on his bike near Cobham.
The first Surrey classic was Won by Frenchman Arnaud Demare, who did not feature in any pre-race predictions. He dedicated his win to his long-time coach, Hervé Boussard, who passed away in June.
The 21-year-old said of the race: "“One year after the Olympic Games this is a victory that’s a symbol of something for me. It’s even more important because I lost my trainer, who died a month ago, so it’s very emotional for me.
“The course was harder than last year at the Olympics but I was feeling great on the way back to London. I was at the centre of the group and I told my two teammates to open the field – I had the legs, I just needed one opportunity.
“In the final stages I thought a lot about my trainer who had been with me since I was a junior, and that carried me to the line. It was an amazing race. It’s not often you get to ride in a big city on closed roads, so the speed was very high. I think this race will get bigger and bigger, and I want to come back every year with my team to win again.”
Sky rider Ben Swift was the first Briton in 10th place, while Garmin-Sharp team leader David Millar was in 100th place. Of the other pre-race favourites, Gerald Ciolek was 11th while double Tour de France green jersey winner Peter Sagan dropped out.