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Thrilling race closes the world’s greatest cycling festival

On the day when Britain’s Geraint Thomas clinched Tour de France victory in Paris, it was German sprinter Pascal Ackermann who brought the curtain down on the 2018 Prudential RideLondon festival of cycling with a thrilling victory on The Mall this evening.

The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic was the last of eight events at the end of a two-day carnival hailed by London’s walking and cycling commissioner Will Norman as “the biggest and best cycling festival in the world”.

Now in its sixth year, the event attracted almost 100,000 cyclists to the roads of London and Surrey as 26,720 people finished the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100, 46 and 19 sportives today.

Club riders, celebrities and amateur pedallers of all varieties were among the 22,142 who completed the longer sportive in drenching rain, many dripping from head to toe and streaked with mud as they cruised, soaking and thankful over the Finish Line on The Mall.

One of those who enjoyed the 46-mile sportive was Norman. “Despite the rain, people were really loving it,” he said. “People really were smiling through it even though none of them had trained for rain.

“But that’s what this event is all about. It’s a real celebration of cycling and people were celebrating despite the weather.”

It may have ended in a downpour but the capital’s packed weekend of cycling began in beautiful summer sunshine at 09:00 on Saturday morning when some 70,000 cyclists descended on central London to enjoy eight miles of car-free roads and seven Festival Zones.

Rick Koekoek brought the Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle to a spectacular finish when he leapt 4.40 metres on his trials bike to unofficially smash the Guinness World Record for a bunny hop leap at the end of Andrei Burton’s Urban Trials Championship.

And there was another spectacular finish in the Prudential RideLondon Classique when Kirsten Wild made cycling history by winning the WorldTour event for a second time.

Wild outsprinted fellow-Dutch rider Marianne Vos to regain the crown she first won in 2016, saying afterwards: “Winning on The Mall is perfect. It’s such a special place.”

It was a special place for Emma Pooley too as the former world time trial champion surprised even herself by taking the women’s race in the Brompton World Championship Final while Cam Gutteridge won the men’s.

The Prudential RideLondon Handcycle Grand Prix brought the day to an end with Rafal Wilk taking his third straight men’s victory and Liz McTernan winning the women’s event.

And it all came to a frantic conclusion on The Mall this evening as Ackermann outsprinted Italy’s Elia Viviani to clinch the greatest victory of his career.

“It is an amazing course and an amazing race,” he said. “I’ll definitely be back in London to do it again.”

As will many thousands of others.

“Conditions were tough today for the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey events but that didn’t stop thousands of spectators lining the route to support the cyclists who took on the sportives,” said Event Director Hugh Brasher.

“We introduced a new event this year – the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 19, for riders aged 12 and upwards – and despite the poor weather, we’ve had great feedback from the youngsters who enjoyed a grandstand finish in front of Buckingham Palace.

“The aim of Prudential RideLondon is to give more people the opportunity to get out on their bikes, get more active and make cycling a part of their daily routine.”

Denise Turner-Stewart, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, added: “The rain and wind couldn’t dampen the determination of thousands of amateur riders who provided a wonderful spectacle as they snaked through scenic Surrey landscapes, followed by a thrilling elite race.

“As well as showing off our county to the world, the RideLondon events boost funding for grassroots Surrey sports, raise millions for charity and inspire others to discover the benefits of cycling. I’m delighted to have welcomed them to Surrey for a sixth year.”

The ballot for next year’s Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 opens at on Monday 6 August 2018.

Next year’s Prudential RideLondon festival will be held on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 August 2019.