'Fastest track in the world' takes shape in London

By James Costley-White | Saturday, December 5, 2009 8.00am

Work is continuing apace on the new £96 million Olympic velodrome in London, with the builders bang on target to complete it by January 2011.

Organisers are aiming to create "the fastest track in the world", which after the 2010 Games will form the centrepiece of a new VeloPark with a road circuit and mountain bike trails.

"It's going really well," said Olympic Delivery Authority press officer Stuart Bass. "The structure is really starting to take shape, and it's likely to be the first venue finished at the Olympic Park.

"We started work in March with the foundations, and then moved on to the concourse level – it's a 6,000-seat permanent venue on two tiers, with a lower bowl and then the concourse level, this glass ring round the outside of the venue.

"The stage we're at now is putting the structural steelwork in place, so we're just past the halfway point. The next big thing, next year, is to lift the cable net roof into place – imagine the strings of a tennis racket, criss-crossing across each other.

"By summer the venue will be weatherproof and we can start work on the inside. The very last thing we'll do is the cycle track – previous velodromes have put the track in early and it has been damaged. Our aim is to have the fastest track in the world."

Artist's impression of the olympic velodrome in london: artist's impression of the olympic velodrome in london

Artist's impression of the finished velodrome, which is due to be completed by January 2011

Mr Bass said the aim was to finish the velodrome a year before the Games, so Team GB could get in some practice on the track.

Once the Olympics are over, the velodrome, which is being built on the site of the former Eastway circuit in Hackney, will become the centrepiece of a new VeloPark. The neighbouring Olympic BMX track will be reworked to make it suitable for riders of all abilities, and a four-mile mountain bike trail and one-mile road-racing circuit will be built.

Mr Bass said: "I'd imagine the velodrome will be one of the first venues open to the public after the Games, so people can go along and cycle round the track, which is fantastic. The idea is we cover all cycling disciplines in one area."

Artist's impression showing the cycling facilities to be built after the games: artist's impression showing the cycling facilities to be built after the games

The Lee Valley VeloPark will be built after the Games (click on the thumbnail for bigger image)

When plans for the velodrome were first announced, there were concerns that the demolition of the Eastway circuit could leave London worse off for cycling facilities.

Mr Bass said: "From the very early days we recognised that the veoldrome was going to replace an existing facility that was well loved. Part of the early process was asking what [users of Eastway] wanted to see.

"There were some disagreements to start with, but having gone through that process we got a fair understanding of what they wanted and when we had the plans finalised they welcomed them. What we leave behind will be fantastic for the people who used the area before."

Artist's impression of the olympic velodrome in london: artist's impression of the olympic velodrome in london

It is hoped that after the Olympics the velodrome will become a centre for cycling

Velodrome facts

> 48,000 cubic metres of material was excavated to create the bowl for the cycling track – enough to fill 19 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

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> The velodrome is being built on 900 piled foundations that were sunk up to 26 metres into the ground.

More than 2,500 sections of steelwork will be installed to complete the 120m x 110m roof and upper tier.

> The cable net roof will only weigh 30kg/m2, which is roughly half that of any other covered velodrome. It will be separated from the concourse by a continuous ribbon of full height windows, allowing views into the track from outside.

> The velodrome will contain eight changing rooms, storage for over 300 bikes, a cycle workshop, a gym, a cafe and, after the Olympics, a bike hire outlet and shop.

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