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Olympic Venue Profile: Historic Box Hill Serves as Cycling Road Race Landmark

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Box Hill, southwest of London, will be the prominent landmark around which road race cyclists will compete. The overall route takes riders out from London into the surrounding towns, down to Box Hill and then back to the starting line.

Full name: Box Hill and Headley Heath

Address: Surrey Hills, Box Hill and Headley Heath, The Old Fort, Box Hill Road, Box Hill, Tadworth, Surrey

Distance from downtown London: 25 miles

Events at Box Hill: Women's and men's road race cycling

Dates of events: July 28 10 a.m. local time (men's) and July 29 noon local time (women's)

Total capacity: Unknown. Up to 15,000 spectators can stand along Zig Zag Road

Routes: Men will circle Box Hill nine times as part of their race. Women circle the hill only twice.

Prominent features: Zig Zag Road, Donkey Green, Box Hill Ascent

Spectator areas: Dormouse Drive, Butterfly Bend, Straw Belle Slope, Donkey Green

Oldest known settlement: Bronze Age

Venue owner: National Trust

Size: 230 acres

Nearby thoroughfares: A24, Old London Road, A25

Nearest National Rail stop: Box Hill and Westhumble

Nearest river: River Mole

Total racing distance around Box Hill: 9.6 miles for men (nine laps).

Previous events: London-Surrey Cycle Classic in August 2011. Event won by Britain's Mark Cavendish, winning the 87-mile event in three hours, 18 minutes and 11 seconds, according to the BBC.

Other notable facts: Box Hill serves as a nature preserve for bats, moths, butterflies, orchids and box trees. … Rare species include the bee orchid, Straw Belle moth and Adonis blue butterfly. … There will be audio commentary of the race for fans during the entire race. … A giant screen will give viewers a chance to see the action at the Donkey Green. … Giant Olympic rings made of aluminum will be installed on Box Hill for riders and spectators to see. … The five rings will need 25 metric tons of scaffolding to support and will be taken down after the Paralympic Games, according to the BBC. … Temporary facilities will be installed for the Olympics and will be removed afterward. … Cycling fans can get a glimpse of what racing is like by watching this video posted by the National Trust.

Historical facts: A fort dating to the 1890s was built as part of the London Defence Scheme, a last-ditch plan to re-take the city from Surrey should London fall into enemy hands. … The only residents of the fort now are a population of bats as the structure was never put to practical use. … Leopold Salomons gave the National Trust the lands in 1914. … Previous owners before Salomons had plans to turn Box Hill into a housing estate.

William Browning has been a fan of the Summer Olympics since the games of 1984 in Los Angeles.

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