Bike Racing Just Gets Better and Better!
Last week F1 Coaching was lucky enough to have the opportunity to take a trip up to London to experience firsthand the Olympic Velodrome whilst watching the London World Cup Track Cycling Event which also doubled up as one of the London Prepares Series Test Events for the Olympic Games.
To get to the Velodrome we were transported by shuttle bus through the Olympic Park which, whilst still needing a lot of work, seems to be taking shape and I predict will be a really good multi-sports venue to provide a central focal point for the Games. Security for the event was thorough yet professional without too much queuing and as is normal for test events, procedures where obviously tweaked from day to day helping to ensure smooth passage to the venue itself.
WOW…what a place the Velodrome is and what a show the GB riders – with a little help from their Aussie counterparts – put on! Entering the Velodrome for the first time you couldn’t help but take a step back to marvel at the venue which is unlike any other indoor track I have been to in the past.
The Friday qualifying session, whilst not appearing to be at full capacity still managed to get the buzz going, helped by some impressive Team GB performances to work the crowd up (and a World Record time from the Australian Women’s Sprint Team).With only a short interlude enlivened by some interesting security checks and confusion as to what to do with ticket holders who also had evening tickets (quite a bit of being moved from one side of the venue to the other before being moved back again!) we were quickly on to the evening sessions and the first of the medal ride offs.
I’m not sure there are actually words to describe the atmosphere within the now fully packed Velodrome during the course of the evening with the performances on the track whipping the crowd up into a frenzy on a regular basis! Spectators were rewarded with another World Record in the Women’s Sprint, coming this time from the home team – Jess Varnish and Vicky Pendleton who absolutely flew round the track.
We left that evening totally inspired and desperate to get back in the morning to experience more and be a part of the next chapter of the story. Gates opened on the Saturday morning at 7.30 for a 9am start on track and whilst in keeping with the Friday it took a while for spectators to arrive, by midday the venue was once again heaving and we were being treated to more inspiring performances, this time not just from Team GB. Even with the venue at full capacity it was a credit to the planning that has obviously gone into the venue design that we never experienced any over the top queuing for the facilities (loos and coffee) which often is the case at major sporting events.
Although I have been to several tracks as a coach and have watched youth riders compete this was my first experience of a major international event and I have to say INSPIRING it most certainly was and I for one can’t wait for the Olympics to arrive. I am even more excited that the SW Youth Cycling Team will be racing in the same venue on the same track pre-Olympics on the final day of the School Games being held in London from the 7th-9th May 2012. It will be amazing to be down in track centre with the SW team watching them compete against the best Youth riders from all over the UK – I can hardly wait to be part of the action.
It’s only February and the season is off to a flying start with unprecedented British success both on the track and on the road. Last weekend also saw SW pro Jonathan Tiernan-Locke take his second major win of the season for Endura Racing in the Tour du Haut Var, once again taking the scalps of many top professional riders and teams. Bradley Wiggins won the final stage of the Volto ao Algarve with his Team Sky teammate Richie Porte securing the overall winners jersey for the race. Closer to home the One and All Cycling – Bike Chain Ricci Academy took its first road race win for 2012 with Jake Alderman convincingly winning Race 1 of the Annual Springtime Pursuits.
2012 is going to be a fantastic year for cycling locally, nationally and internationally. If all this doesn’t inspire, motivate and encourage you to get out and get cycling in whatever way, shape or form then I don’t know what will. Join the cycling revolution and be a part of history in the making!