Fantastic racing as athletes open London's brand new velopark - now it's your turn!


London's newest Olympic velodrome (we've had two before of course, White City in 1908 and Herne Hill in 1948) opened to the public with a bang this weekend, with the return of competitive track cycling for the first time since the 2012 summer games left town.

IMG_7080
IMG_7097
IMG_7098
The Velodrome is surrounded by a closed road cycling circuit within the Queen Elizabeth Olympic park in east London.

Revolution Series 5 concluded in London with German team Rudy Project RT (coolest cycling caps ever) winning the series overall, whilst keirin, sprint and 1km time trial world champion Francois Pervis from France dominated the men's events.  Great Britain's Laura Trott had spectators on their feet time and again racing for Team Wiggle Honda, completing the perfect omnium and winning each of her six events; an incredible return to the arena where she won her Olympic gold medals.  Favourites including Danni King, Ed Clancy and Jason Kenny were popular with the capacity crowd too, with a "best of 3" Kenny vs Pervis sprint final keeping everyone on the edge of their seats.

IMG_6610
IMG_6634
IMG_6626

There's lots more UCI-level competition to come at our brand new track, with the Revolution Series returning in autumn (tickets open for registration now) and the 2016 Track Cycling World Cup also coming to London.  Until then, us mere mortals now have the fastest velodrome in the world to play with for ourselves; and that's just the start of it.

The Velodrome sits in the centre of the larger "Lee Valley VeloPark"; made up of a closed road cycling circuit, a competition level mountain bike trail and the Olympic BMX course, remodelled to make it slightly less back breaking and suitable for all levels.  

IMG_6490
IMG_6713
IMG_7022

It's the first time all four disciplines have been brought together in one place for the public to try, all under the watchful eye of Head Coach Rob Mortlock.  Lee Valley Regional Park Authority estimate up to half a million people will either spectate or participate in events here each year, paying between £4 and £30 for sessions in different disciplines.  Pre-booking is already open online, with the whole park open and operational from March 31st.

Back at the Revolution Series, inside track centre rollers whirred as athletes warmed up for their races.  Of course there are competitive glances across the pens, but smiles and warm handshakes too. 

IMG_6951
IMG_6927
IMG_6930
Laura Trott warms down after winning each of her 6 events in the omnium, whilst world champion Francois Pervis relaxes between races.  Tomas Babek from the Czech national racing team is happy to be racing in the new London velodrome for the first time.

Meanwhile, up in the stands expectant faces look down to the boards, waiting for their heroes to ride.  With booming music, beating high definition lights and and the swoosh, swoosh, swoosh of rider after rider passing by, for a moment it was like the Olympics had never left town.

IMG_6787

I won't come close to the times of any of the athletes who we've seen perform this weekend, but I still can't wait to try. See you there!

Share 

2 comments:

Jono said...

I really enjoyed the racing. Thought the whole event was well run, and stage managed with v short breaks between races. No complaints about that, but....

Getting into the park on a bike is still a joke. 17 months on and till no access from the North. Miles of 'shared space' which is actually riding on the pavement. Bit depressing really

ibikelondon said...

Hi Jono, sorry not to see you there, though I did bump in to part of the Kenyon clan! I agree that the racing was superbly well organised and very slick - I imagine coming in to a new venue and setting up was probably not so easy either. I'm looking forward to seeing more events there, and of course riding the track myself.

I came through the park from White Post Lane, and from there to the Velodrome it is not so bad or difficult (a bit of road not yet open to the public and then a shared surface but with lots of space) However, yesterday I cycled from the 'drome to the aquatic centre and that was on shared use paths along the back of the shopping centre - they're filled with trees and bus stops(!) and are a total mess. The bike parking at the aquatic centre is sorely lacking too. Unfortunately I don't think the parks authority will be rushing to fix this either... Such a missed opportunity.