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Sports minister visits track stars in Manchester

Hugh Robertson chats to four-time Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy (pic: British Cycling)

Sport and Olympics minister Hugh Robertson has paid a visit to the Manchester Velodrome to see first-hand how Britain’s cyclist are preparing ahead of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.

Robertson was guided around the centre by British Cycling’s performance director Dave Brailsford to watch some of the leading sprint track riders and para-cyclists being put through their paces in an afternoon training session.

Among those on the boards were four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy and rising sprint star Jess Varnish, alongside multi-medal winning Paralympians Jody Cundy and Sarah Storey.

And, following the success of Great Britain’s cyclists on tarmac, Robertson revealed he is determined to help grow cycling at a grass roots road racing level as well as on the track.

“You can’t help but be impressed by the setup here in Manchester, both in terms of the facilities which are second to none, but also the sense of professionalism and winning mentality you see in the coaches and riders alike,” he said. 

“It is easy to see how British Cycling has achieved the success it has enjoyed over the past few years and I remain committed to helping ensure they, and all our other Olympic and Paralympic sports, can continue to build on this through London and beyond.

“That is not just about funding at the elite level, but also doing what we can to ensure the next generation of stars get the right opportunities to begin their sporting journey.

“For example, I am acutely aware of the problems British Cycling has faced with regard to the issue of road racing on the highways and my officials are working hard to resolve those with the Department of Transport and the Home Office.

“This is important as grass roots road racing has been a key stepping stone on the route to the top for so many of today’s cycling heroes.”

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