Delays to new velodrome in Roubaix may hamper France's London 2012 preparation (+ video)

Mid-June handover now for facility that Grégory Baugé & co plan to use in final Olympic build-up

by Simon_MacMichael   November 27, 2011  

Roubaix covered velodrome © Atelier Neveux

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.