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Olympic legacy venue hard to use for riders it was supposed to benefit

Representatives of local cycling groups say they can’t get access to the Lee Valley Velopark’s tracks because too much time is being allocated to companies running corporate events.

The Olympic legacy facility is due to be fully open to the public on March 31 and will offer a one-mile road circuit, mountain bike course, BMX track and the indoor velodrome that’s been nicknamed the Pringle thanks to its distinctive shape.

But according to Cycling Weekly, local cycling groups have been unable to book the facilities because of demand from companies offering corporate sessions.

Michael Humphreys, from the Eastway Users Group, told the Star: “It’s like we’d been campaigning to get a theatre built so your local amateur dramatics actors could get on stage but the people who were supposed to go on the stage don’t get a look-in.”

Three companies, FACE Partnership, Cavendish Group and Rampage Event Management/Velo Events, were selected to run track days at the park. Velo Events estimates it will be able to use the velodrome exclusively for four full days a month, while the Cavendish Group has obtained two full days a month and FACE Partnership expects to use rthe velodrome for one of two days per month.

Locals clubs claim that communication has been difficult with Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA), the body that runs the facility.

Bruce Mackie from Lee Valley Youth Cycle Club said: “It does seem to me that the demand will be from those who can foot the biggest bill.”

The LVRPA denied corporate clients were taking precedence over grassroots clubs.

A spokesman said: “Our programming includes 40% of clubs and schools sessions, 55% for the public and only 5% is allocated to corporate events.

“We have worked closely with local clubs and the cycling community as a whole to ensure a well-balanced programme, which is unbiased and fair for all.

“Yes, we have corporate clients and events, however the money earned from these clients is put back into the venue.”

The first major event to be hosted at the velodrome will be the final the FACE Partnership’s Revolution track series on March 14-15. Olympic track champions Laura Trott, Jason Kenny and Ed Clancy will all race along with current National Road Race champion and Olympic silver medalist Lizzie Armitstead.

The following month, the venue will host the Bespoked handmade bicycle show, which moves for from Bristol for 2014 and takes place over the weekend of April 11-13.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.