Three-time Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins believes Herne Hill Velodrome’s new track will help young riders follow in his footsteps.
Hugh Robertson, minister for sport and the Olympics, officially reopened the velodrome today after work began to relay the track in July, with 1992 Olympic individual pursuit champion Chris Boardman leading a ceremonial lap on the new surface alongside British Cycling president Brian Cookson and local riders.
“I have such fond memories of Herne Hill, which played an important role in my development as a rider,” said Wiggins, who first started racing on the track aged 12 and who now currently lies third overall at the Vuelta a Espana.
“I remember the buzz I got from racing there when I was younger and that really gave me the bug for the sport. It’s fantastic to see Herne Hill benefiting from this investment – it’s such an iconic facility not just for the local area but for the whole British cycling scene.
“I hope the new track means more young people head down to Herne Hill to learn the ropes, develop their skills and, who knows, start their journey towards Olympic success.”
The £500,000 project was funded by British Cycling through its Sport England investment and from a financial bequest left to the national governing body by the late Leonard Lyes, a life-long supporter of the Herne Hill Velodrome.
The track has been resurfaced using a velodrome-specific covering called MasterTrack – take a closer look here – which contains fine granite stones and is exceptionally smooth, hard and dense, making it ideal for track racing.
“It is fitting that the year before London 2012, we are able to celebrate the refurbishment of the track at one of the key venues from the 1948 Games,” said Robertson.
“As the popularity of cycling continues to grow, it is vital that people are provided with the facilities and opportunities to ride their bikes, be they young people starting out, serious racers, or others simply cycling to keep fit.
“Thanks to the new track that has been laid Herne Hill now takes its place as one of the country’s leading cycling facilities.”
Cookson added: “It’s fantastic to be here and see the first of what we hope will be a number of improvements resulting directly from the new agreement between British Cycling and The Dulwich Estate.
“Getting a longer-term lease in place was essential in terms of our ability to invest in the new track and make best use of the generous donation from Leonard Lyes.
“I’m sure he’ll be looking down with a smile on his face – we know Herne Hill was close to his heart and this new track will mean it can continue to bring the joy and excitement of cycling to the whole community for many years to come.”
The Dave Creasy Memorial Meeting, the first major event on the new track, takes place this Sunday from 11am.