Manchester velodrome to be resurfaced

After 12 years of successful operation, Manchester velodrome is due to get a facelift, thanks to £27

A victim of its own success?
After 12 years of successful operation, Manchester velodrome is due to get a facelift, thanks to £270,000 of National Lottery funding from Sport England. The grant was announced on Monday, and the £270K will comprise 90 percent of the total for the project, while British Cycling and Manchester City Council will make up the remaining 10 percent (£30K).

The track will get a brand new surface, and it needs it. "It's the heaviest used velodrome in the world," British Cycling's Facilities Officer Dave Cockram told Cycling Plus. "It encompasses lots of people of all ages and abilities, from nine or ten year-olds to elite riders. It's in use from nine
in the morning until ten at night, every day, seven days a week. Some of those sessions might not be heavy, with one or two elite riders on the track, but other times there are up to 40 riders."

The velodrome was built for an original cost of around £10 million for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, but has actually been in use since September 1994. During its existence, it has hosted the 1996 and 2000 UCI World Track Cycling Championships, the UCI World Track Cup 2004/2005 and many more events. As such, the track has become the victim of its own success, with the resurfacing being required an estimated seven years before it was originally planned. At the moment, it's still perfectly rideable, but with the 2008 Olympics around the corner, British Cycling wants to help provide its riders the best possible conditions in which to prepare for the Games.

"It doesn’t make much difference to you or I, but it does make a difference to elite riders," says Cockram. "Victoria Pendleton was telling me the other night that it's very bumpy. And at the speed that she can go round, it's costing her fractions of a second. That's not what we want. We want the riders to get the best possible preparation for the Olympics. The other motivation is to enable it to continue at same level as it has been for the last four or five years."

The track was originally constructed from Siberian pine, and it's been proposed that Siberian larch wood will be the material used for resurfacing. However, this isn't decided yet, according to Cockram. "It will be the duplicate of the wood that will be used in London for the 2012 Olympics," he says. "That's not been decided yet. One of the things about using hardwood as that it's difficult to get it from sustainable sources. I'm almost certain it's not allowed to use wood from a non-sustainable source."

That said, Siberian larch "would probably be ideal. It's what is used on the Moscow track and I think Bordeaux. Riders who have ridden those will tell you that it's very, very quick and durable."

With winter approaching, the resurfacing work will not commence until some time next year, more than likely between the months of April and June. It's estimated that it will take 6-8 weeks to complete before it will be reopened. "The world's in 2008 are in Manchester and obviously a brand
new track for the world's will be a very nice thing to have. There have been a very large number of world records gone already at Manchester and I'm sure we'll get some more."

The resurfacing isn't the only thing happening at the velodrome. Britain's national cycling centre is housed there, and the new plans include accommodation facilities for athletes and a new indoor BMX centre.

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