Riders batten down the hatches to beat hurricane Bertha

ALTHOUGH big Bertha did her best to blow it, she certainly didn’t stop thousands of professional and amateur cyclists joining in the rhythm of the RideLondon-Surrey races on Sunday.

A total of 20,709 amateur cyclists defied the hurricane that lashed the South to complete the course, which had to be cut from 100 miles to 86 miles, missing out the dangerous Box Hill and Leith Hill climbs because of weather safety concerns.

CAN THEY HANDLE IT? – the elite riders’ peloton whizzes through rain-soaked Pyrford

CAN THEY HANDLE IT? – the elite riders’ peloton whizzes through rain-soaked Pyrford

Three of the greatest women cyclists in the world – Laura Trott, Marianne Vos and Dame Sarah Storey – dropped a Union flag to set riders on their way from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at 6am before joining the route of the
pedalling peloton.

Among the many teams who took part in the challenge were six cyclists from Surrey Police and the county council, led by Deputy Chief Constable Nick Ephgrave.

Aptly promoting safer cycling under the Drive SMART banner, the team set off at 6.40am from the capital, travelling through Surrey’s towns and countryside, taking in West Byfleet, Byfleet, Pyrford and Ripley, before finishing back in
London at The Mall. The route was similar to that of the professionals who took part later on in the day in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic and Grand Prix.

Describing the day as ‘terrific’, Deputy Chief Constable Ephgrave said: “I am delighted with how my ride went, and am also pleased with what a great team effort this has been.

“Our aim was to promote issues  concerning road safety, reflecting on the rising popularity of cycling in Surrey and the proportionate increase in road casualties.

“The event also highlighted the camaraderie between cyclists and the support many communities give to others.”

In the professional races Team Sky’s Adam Blythe won the battle of the Brits when he held off Ben Swift in a sprint finish to win the Classic.

Olympic champion and Swift’s Team Sky colleague, a bearded Bradley Wiggins, finished further back, while Giorgia Bronzini, riding for Wiggle-Honda, was first over the line in the women’s race.

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