Planning approval has been secured for Ireland’s first ever indoor velodrome, which Cycling Ireland’s interim CEO Chris Kitchen believes will “help Irish cycling to the next level”.
On Friday, the governing body confirmed that permission had been granted for the shared cycling and badminton centre, which will be built at the Sport Ireland Campus in Blanchardstown, just outside of Dublin, the venue for December’s inaugural Irish round of the UCI cyclocross World Cup.
The centre will include a 250m track, with 12 badminton courts within the infield. Other spaces, including a café, changing rooms, offices, training facilities, and bike stores and hire facilities, will sit under the track at ground level.
The new facility will be based at the Sport Ireland campus near Dublin
Despite producing several elite track talents over the past decade – including 2013 scratch race world champion Martyn Irvine, World Cup winners Mark Downey and Felix English, and the European bronze medal-winning team pursuit squad of Kelly Murphy, Emily Kay, Mia Griffin, and Alice Sharpe – the country has never had a proper indoor track (despite number failed attempts), with those leading riders forced to train on the boards in Palma, Mallorca.
Cycling Ireland chief Kitchen, who took over the role on an interim basis in December after a turbulent time for the governing body fraught with financial and legal troubles, says the news is “a testament to the hard work of many at Sport Ireland, Sport Ireland Campus and Cycling Ireland.”
He continued: “We’re delighted to move one step closer to the development of a state-of-the-art velodrome on the Sport Ireland Campus that can help bring Irish cycling to the next level.”
The international commissaire Paul Watson, who has been working on the design and plans for the velodrome, added: “It’s something that Sport Ireland and Cycling Ireland have been working towards for a long time, and we can’t wait to continue our work with them on the project to deliver a world class velodrome for Irish cycling.”
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This positive development comes only a matter of months after Cycling Ireland took the decision to not send a squad to the road world championships in Wollongong, citing the mounting costs and the body’s stretched budget, and only a week after the schedule for the island’s U23 team was cut.
According to a report from Sticky Bottle, the Irish U23 road team will only ride three events in 2023 – despite possessing two of the most talented riders in the world at that age, Archie Ryan and Darren Rafferty – and will not ride the prestigious Tour de l’Avenir, which Ryan would have entered as a favourite after finishing fourth in 2022.
As well as limiting the schedule, U23 road team manager Irvine has not been rehired, despite being credited with the promising group’s success last year.