Builders in France reportedly face a race against the clock to ensure that the new indoor velodrome currently being constructed in Roubaix is completed in time for it to be used as a pre-Olympic training base for the country’s track cyclists ahead of London 2012.
Construction of the €25 million facility began in February this year and the facility, designed by Roubaix-based Atelier Neveux, is due to be handed over in May next year, reports the architectural website, Urban News.
However, that date has now been put back to the middle of June, threatening to disrupt not only France’s Olympic preparations, but also next year’s French national championships, due to be held there.
Once complete, the new velodrome, which has been designed with the help of technical advice from Roubaix native and former world and Olympic track champion Arnaud Tournant, will be used on a daily basis by local cycling clubs as well as for major national and international competitions.
The 250-metre, Olympic standard track will be housed within a curtain-walled structure that also houses seating for 1,500 spectators, as well as training and recovery and gym facilities, as well as a meeting area. It can also be adapted to provide a venue for sports such as volleyball, table tennis and badminton. Outside, a 200-metre track is being constructed for leisure cycling and BMX.
The roof is to be built of translucent material through which the track can be seen, with the designers said to have taken into account the potential for aerial shots of the structure during television coverage of Paris-Roubaix, which will continue to finish at the adjacent outdoor velodrome.
After Australia, France may pose the biggest threat to Great Britain’s attempt to seek to repeat their success at Beijing three years ago, with the country’s cyclists getting among the medals this year in Olympic events at both European and world level.
At the world track championships in the Netherlands earlier this year, Grégory Baugé took the individual sprint and took a second gold medal in the team event with Kevin Sireau and Michaël D'Almeida, while Clara Sanchez won bronze in the women’s keirin.
More recently, at the same venue, France won 11 medals to finish second in the medal table at the European championships, behind Great Britain, which won 14. However, ten of those British medals were gold, compared to three for the French, and the country’s track stars will be keen for any delay in the velodrome to be kept to a minimum to avoid interfering with their Olympic preparation.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.