Dionne Allen – International Triathlete and Aspiring Ironwoman
To celebrate International Womens Day we asked 3 of our sponsored riders to share their stories of what inspired them to take up cycling, what motivates them and what their goals are for 2019 and moving forward.
British cycle racing hasn’t always been the huge success story that it is today and, like many great sporting feats, the results of London 2012 and the Rio 2016 Olympics came after years of preparation, dedication and investment.
Britain’s velodromes naturally have played their part in this success – both past and present – and their place within cycling’s rich folklore should never be downplayed.
But where and when did the first velodromes spring up? Are they still used today? And if so, are they the places where Britain’s gold medalists honed their craft?
The early velodromes
One of the world’s first velodromes was built at Preston Park in Brighton, a 633 yard long track that opened in 1877. Portsmouth velodrome soon followed, featuring a single straight joined by one swooping curve.
The materials that were used in the early velodromes differed from track to track, as did each circuit’s functionality. While some were built specifically for cycling, others were built around the outside of running tracks, providing extra lanes for runners to train.
Throughout the history of the Olympics, many velodromes were used – all of which differed in size, length and technical aspects. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1990s when the length of velodromes were standardised, a factor which resulted in the reason why today’s events take place on a 250 metre track, as opposed to the various lengths that were used throughout the 20th century.
UK’s greatest tracks
Although some of the early velodromes may have closed their doors, there are still many great velodromes here in the UK and the number of facilities continues to increase. Just take a look at some of the tracks below.
Lee Valley VeloPark – now arguably the most famous velodrome in the UK the Lee Valley VeloPark, in east London, is the track where Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Laura Trott rode to victory during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Manchester Velodrome – the home of British Cycling (the sport’s governing body), Manchester Velodrome is the place where some of the nation’s finest Olympians have trained over the years. Located near the Etihad Stadium, the velodrome is also open to the public – just make sure you book well in advance if ever you fancy a few laps!
The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome – while the Manchester Velodrome may be home to British Cycling, the Scottish Cycling team can often be found training on Glasgow’s Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. Again, this track is open to the public, which is handy for any cyclist looking to build their fitness.
Herne Hill Velodrome – is one of the oldest tracks in the world, built in south London in 1891, and for decades was the home of the famous Good Friday Track Meeting. In 1948 it hosted the track cycling events at the London Olympics and it is still a very popular track for training and racing today.
Newport Velodrome – The Welsh National Velodrome opened in 2003 and was used by the British track cycling team for its pre-event training camps ahead of the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics. It has also been crucial in developing a string of talented Welsh cyclists such as Nicole Cooke and Geraint Thomas.
Remembering Leicester track
While the tracks above highlight some of the best UK velodromes today, it’s worth remembering one of of the great velodromes of the past.
The Saffron Lane Velodrome – an outdoor stadium that once played host to some of British Cycling’s most memorable moments – was a 3,100 seater velodrome located in Leicester. The Leicester track hosted the UCI World Championships in 1970 and 1982.
Unfortunately, the opening of the new Manchester Velodrome hastened the end for the once glorious Saffron Lane track which eventually closed its doors in 1999.
Take a look at the map below to see where all the UK’s velodromes are located and to find out more about which notable cyclists have trained where.
Ribble launched the new, exciting full carbon Eliminator track bike during the 2016-17 track season. Read all about it here.
We hope you’re as excited as we are as a feast of cycling at the Rio Olympics approaches. Eighteen cycling gold medals will be keenly fought for and it all starts this weekend. Four years ago, at the London Olympics, Great Britain headed the medals table with a fantastic haul of eight gold, two silver and two bronze. Who will you be rooting for in Rio?
The opening ceremony takes place late (23.15) on Friday evening and cycling is one of the major sports that will dominate the first week of Games action with the men’s road race kicking things off on Saturday (6th August).
No late nights?
Cycling fans are lucky that practically all the racing will take place at convenient times for UK viewers (all times stated here are British Summer Time). The road races, time trials, triathlon and mountain biking will all take place during the afternoon and the six days of track cycling sessions will run largely from 14.00 to 22.30.
The time difference between the UK and Brazil will mean that some of the biggest (evening) events from other sports will happen in the very early hours of the morning and the BBC’s Breakfast Show will become an Olympics highlights show so we can catch up with events.
The Olympic road races will be contested by national teams of up to five riders each over a tough and lumpy circuit that should favour hilly Classics riders. Spain’s Alejandro Valverde and Italian Vincenzo Nibali are being mentioned as favourites, but the road race can throw up a surprise winner.
Britain take a strong five-man road team to the Olympics but no recognised sprinter. The final climb is thought to be too far from the finish line to favour Chris Froome or Adam Yates so Team GB will perhaps be hoping to get Steve Cummings, Ian Stannard or Geraint Thomas into a small breakaway group that could contest the medals.
In the women’s race World champion Lizzie Armitstead will be up against a strong Dutch team again as she hopes to upgrade the silver medal she won in London four years ago behind Marianne Vos.
Television commentator Anthony McCrossan was driven around the road race course this week and said, “It’s going to be an incredible race. The course is very hard with stunning scenery.”
UCI President Brian Cookson is also excited about Rio and told the press, “The road race mixes some of Rio’s most iconic backdrops such as Copacabana and Ipanema with some really testing sections such as the Grumari Circuit. The steep climb up Grumari Road is sure to provide a unique test for time trial riders.”
The men’s road race, over 237.5km, starts at 13.30 (finishing approx. 19.51) on Saturday (6th August) followed by the 136.9km women’s road race at 16.15 (finishing approx. 20.23) on Sunday.
GB Men’s team: Chris Froome; Steve Cummings; Ian Stannard; Geraint Thomas; and Adam Yates. GB Women’s team: Lizzie Armitstead; Nikki Harris; and Emma Pooley.
Team Great Britain is likely to select Chris Froome to compete in the time trial where he stands an excellent chance of following in the wheel tracks of Sir Bradley Wiggins and winning the gold medal. The GB selections for the time trial will be made after the road race events. Update: Team GB time trial selections are: Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Emma Pooley.
Both time trials place on Wednesday 10th August with the women riders starting first from 12.30 (racing over 29.86km) and the men riders heading out from 14.00. The men’s 54.56km two-lap course includes four significant climbs which will suit Tour de France winner Froome.
The large track programme starts on Thursday 11th August and the Men’s Team Sprint will be the first final. The Men’s Team Pursuit featuring Sir Bradley Wiggins will also begin on the opening day at 17.23 and the British quartet of Wiggins, Steven Burke, Ed Clancy and Owain Doull will be hoping to qualify for the final taking place at 18.20 on Friday 12th August. The track events continue until Tuesday 16th August.
The men’s triathlon is contested on Thursday 18th August with the women’s race on Saturday 20th August both starting at 11.00. Alistair Brownlee defends his Olympic title and heads a six-strong Team GB triathlon squad.
GB Men’s triathlon: Alistair Brownlee, Jonny Brownlee and Gordon Benson. GB Women’s triathlon: Non Stanford, Vicky Holland and Helen Jenkins.
The cycling events at the Rio Olympics will conclude with the two mountain bike races, around a five kilometre lap, on the final weekend of competition. World road race champion Peter Sagan returns to off-road racing, but it would be a big surprise if he can beat the MTB specialists.
The women will race on Saturday 20th August and the men 24 hours later. Both races start at 16.30 and Grant Ferguson is the only British rider selected.