After the UCI rejected the site of the first 2012 London Olympic cross-country venue two years ago because it was too easy, the subsequent choice has been deemed a “stunning, challenging” course.
Following a recent visit to the 550-acre Hadleigh Farm in Essex, Peter Van den Abeele, technical delegate of the UCI, said the course — 40 to 50km for men’s elite and 30 to 40km for women’s elite — is shaping into a technical challenge.
“We are extremely happy with the work that is happening on site,” he said in a recent newspaper report. “Great progress has been made which reflects exactly where we want to take the sport over the coming years, making the course more accessible to spectators and improving television images.”
Maddie Horton, who won the silver medal at the 2010 British Cross Country Mountain Bike Championships, said, “the course is great – much more hilly than I expected. I’ve ridden World Cup courses before, and this is definitely up there with the toughest.”
The cross-country site overlooks the Thames Estuary and is 45 minutes from the Olympic Village in London. It was chosen in 2008 to replace Weald Country Park after the UCI ruled that it was not challenging enough for the sport’s top riders competing in an Olympics. The new course will be set against the backdrop of the 700-year-old ruins of Hadleigh Castle, which was built in the 1230s during the reign of King Henry III.
Work is on schedule to be completed in advance of a test event in summer 2011. The London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking events are scheduled to take place 11 and 12 August 2012.
“We are confident that the combination of technical climbs and steep rocky descents will provide a stunning, challenging course for Mountain Biking and that it will be a great event in London 2012,” said Van den Abeele.
Sebastian Coe, the London 2012 chairman, also praised the current progress.
“Hadleigh Farm is a stunning venue, in line with our concept of a compact Games and it will have an excellent legacy,” Coe said. “The course is shaping up to be a challenging one with multiple climbs and descents.”