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Manchester Velodrome, the home of British Cycling, reopens after 2 years and a £27m refurbishment

The National Cycling Centre, dubbed the ‘Medal Factory’, was the training ground for champions such as Sir Chris Hoy, Sir Bradley Wiggins and Dame Laura Kenny

Manchester Velodrome, the home of British Cycling at the HSBC UK National Cycling Centre, which served as the training base for modern British cycling heroes such as Sir Chris Hoy, Sir Bradley Wiggins and Dame Laura Kenny, has reopened after two years following a £27 million refurbishment.

The velodrome was opened in 1994, amidst scrutiny and eagle eyes, dubbed in the media as the "white elephant" during its controversial first few years. However since then, the velodrome has went on to produce legends etched in British cycling history, cited as the major catalyst for Britain's successes in track and road cycling. It also caught on to a new name: "the Medal Factory".

While it was the home of British Cycling since its opening day, it also became the home of Team Sky, now known as Ineos Grenadiers, between 2010 and 2019, a period when the team won 6 Tour de France, 2 Vuelta a Espana and 1 Giro d'Italia with Great Britain riders.

> Sky likely to move out of National Cycling Centre as British Cycling reviews relationship

In 2017, the Manchester Velodrome was renamed as the HSBC UK National Cycling Centre, altogether with the entire complex of the aforementioned illustrious velodrome, the BMX complex, mountain bike trails and the sports court.

It was also the site of protest by climate activist group Extinction Rebellion, with protesters having climbed onto the entrance of the National Cycling Centre to protest British Cycling's partnership with global petrochemical giant Shell.

Urgent repairs to the ageing centre were approved in 2021, after a report warned the building, could develop "catastrophic" failures. Architects said parts of the velodrome were "approaching end of life" and "essential" refurbishment was needed.

> “Own a piece of cycling history” – Manchester velodrome track up for sale

Now finally, after two years of repairs and a £27 million bill, the velodrome has reopened and is raring to go once again, with the Manchester City Council hoping that the renovated hub will help the area become the first European capital of cycling in 2024, the BBC has reported.

Councillor John Hacking said: "We have invested significantly in cycling and active travel, but we want to move on to a different level."

He said most of the venue's funding - provided by Sport England, and local and central government - had been invested in heating and mechanical operations.

"It is not only about medals and starting pistols. It's actually about allowing people to aspire to being healthier, to moving more," Hacking said.

> Sir Chris Hoy finds a wood splinter stuck in his bum cheek... from a crash 31 years ago

British Cycling chief Jon Dutton, who joined the organisation in April amidst a series of controversies, including its transgender participation policy and the infamous Shell sponsorship, said the organisation had been "proud to call Manchester our home for almost three decades".

A European sporting delegation attended the velodrome's relaunch, after Manchester submitted a bid to become the continent's inaugural capital of cycling next year. They will also see the annual Tour of Britain in the city on Sunday.

Officials hope the bid will lead to more cycling funds, as they plan for bicycles to become the default choice for short journeys by 2038 - as part of a net-zero target for carbon emissions.

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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9 comments

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check12 | 10 months ago
1 like

Sort the cycle hire and cycle lanes out before capital of cycling, London Paris all of the Netherlands kicking Manchester ass currently 

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chrisonabike replied to check12 | 10 months ago
0 likes

I think they must mean "the continent's inaugural capital of sports cycling" (which is what most in the UK think "cycling" means anyway).  And I imagine there are a fair few cities which would want a word even when just restricted to that!

Otherwise... Manchester's modal share for cycling of 6% makes it above average for the UK but lagging behind well-known cycling meccas like ... er ... Tampere, Tel Aviv, Zürich, Milan, and Helsinki...

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ktache replied to check12 | 10 months ago
2 likes

Was watching the finish of todays tour of Britain, few ks to go painted red cycle route, next to the road the riders were on, high pavement, very low dropped kerbs, looked like a roller coaster. Hellish at anything more than walking pace, but of course if you refuse to use the badly made path, more aggression and punishments by the paragons of virtue.

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Rendel Harris replied to ktache | 10 months ago
1 like

It's seriously embarrassing to look at the Tour of Britain with our inadequate painted cycle lanes and then switch over to the Vuelta where pretty much every town seems to have wide well-surfaced segregated cycle paths which often go on to connect towns some distance apart. The same when watching cycle races from the low countries and Italy (France never seems quite as good, except in Paris). These countries are no richer than us, how come they can do it and we can't?

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essexian replied to Rendel Harris | 10 months ago
2 likes

Have you seen the quaility of the roads in Spain? Brilliant and built, so the commentators said, with EU money.

We could do with some of that dosh here..... oh, wait. 

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chrisonabike replied to essexian | 10 months ago
1 like
essexian wrote:

Have you seen the quaility of the roads in Spain? Brilliant and built, so the commentators said, with EU money.

We could do with some of that dosh here..... oh, wait. 

Aha!  So that's where that NHS cash was going!  There was me thinking it was all just going on cargo-cult cycle infra post-austerity debt repayments, keeping drivers less grumpy and the extra costs of failing to make our health, social and legal systems work towards the same goals!

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Rendel Harris replied to essexian | 10 months ago
3 likes
essexian wrote:

Have you seen the quaility of the roads in Spain? Brilliant and built, so the commentators said, with EU money.

They are simply unbelievable, looking at them at first sight one thinks oh well, they must've had that specially resurfaced for the race, but then the quality goes on for hundreds and hundreds of kilometres and you can see it in all the offshoot side roads as well. Still, to be fair, we have got our blue passports back.

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check12 replied to Rendel Harris | 10 months ago
0 likes

Which are black... another Brexit lie 😂

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check12 replied to ktache | 10 months ago
1 like

Yep a good one was cycle lane, cycle lane ends,  multi exit 2 lane roundabout, good luck. Also no LEZ or congestion charge and no bus lane on major arteries in and out of Manchester Center, it's Manchester we do things differently here 😂

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