Essex loses bid to stage 2012 event

ESSEX has lost its bid to stage an event at the 2012 Olympic Games after organisers said the planned mountain biking course would be too easy.

Elliot Furniss

ESSEX has lost its bid to stage an event at the 2012 Olympic Games after organisers said the planned mountain biking course would be too easy.

The mountain biking competition was originally earmarked to take place at Weald Park in south east Essex but inspectors from the International Cycling Federation (UCI) visited the site last week and have now told the organising committee to find an alternative venue as the course would not be “challenging” enough for the best riders.

Stephen Castle, Essex County Council's cabinet member for economic development, regeneration and for the 2012 Olympic Games, said the news was “disappointing” but remained optimistic that a substitute venue in Essex would be found.


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He said: “Of course it is extremely disappointing that UCI has changed its decision to accept Weald as a venue for mountain biking.

“We are now in discussions with the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) about other suitable locations which will provide us with an alternative site in Essex.”

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He said that having the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games on the county's doorstep would be a “tremendous opportunity” for Essex and an exciting time for the County.

“We will ensure Essex plays a major part in the success of the 2012 Games,” Mr Castle added.

At nearly 500 acres, Weald Park, near Brentwood, is the largest county council-maintained park in Essex and was approved as the 2012 mountain biking venue by the UCI in 2004.

However, LOCOG confirmed this week that the UCI had requested a “more challenging” site for the “new and evolving” sport as course requirements for elite athletes were getting tougher.

Jackie Brock-Doyle, a LOCOG spokesperson, said “The UCI has asked us to find a course that meets new and challenging requirements that test the best mountain bikers in the world in 2012.

“Whilst this is disappointing news, we have agreed that, together with Essex County Council, we will look at other possible venues within Essex that meet the new requirements of the sport.”

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