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London and Kent routes ready for Tour de France

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TOUR DE FRANCE organisers have ruled roads in London and Kent as fit for racing ahead of the start of the race which will be held in England this weekend.

Roads require only minor cosmetic patching and a thorough sweep to remove debris ahead of next weekend's opening stages.

For the first time in its history, the elite 3,500km cycle race is to start its month-long contest in Britain.

On Saturday, competitors will chase each other down in a 7.9km time trial across London.

Roads will be closed and traffic diverted as cyclists race at up to 55km/h from Trafalgar Square, past Buckingham Palace to the Serpentine lake in Hyde Park and back.

The trials will establish a pecking order for Sunday's race from London to Canterbury.

Road raf c will again have to be carefully managed as competitors, riding in a tight-knit group at an expected average of 40km/h, will zigzag across the Thames as the race heads east out of London into Kent, travelling to Rochester, Gillingham and Chatham, Maidstone, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, Ashford and Canterbury.

Minor works carried out to accommodate the bikes and their vast entourages included the removal of four traffic islands - two in London and two near Canterbury - to ensure that riders do not crash. Some 'minor' road patching has been required, said Kent County Council and Transport for London (TfL).

But TfL said that speed humps were being left in place over the time trial course.

'The race organisers inspected the route and were happy with the condition of the roads.

The humps are fine - they'll add interest, ' he said.

Medway Council head of traffic management Keith Hadshaw said that a small number of plastic road humps had been removed over a section where the normal speed limit is very low.

'But these cyclists are used to climbing fairly arduous Alpine passes, ' he said 'Kent roads are in comparatively good condition.' Medway and Kent Councils have mainly prepared for the Tour by cleaning drainage gullies to minimise the risk of flooding.

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