Cycling clubs from across England are queuing up to book track time at a new velodrome planned for Derby before a board has even been laid.
Derby City Council submitted a formal planning application for the 250 metre covered track, which will form part of a £22 million Multi Sports Arena complex designed by FaulknerBrowns Architects adjacent to Derby County’s Pride Park Stadium, in January.
Since then, clubs across the Midlands and from as far afield as Bristol have been in touch with the council to ask about booking sessions, despite the fact that the track is not due to open for two years.
While the facility in Derby may have a lower profile than the Olympic one in London or the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome being built for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, one of the big draws for those clubs, of course, is location, particularly for those based in Midlands cities such as Nottingham and Leicester.
Although Bristol cyclists already have a velodrome within fairly easy reach across the Severn in Newport, too many cyclists chasing too little track time also means that availability can be restricted.
Peter Pain, head coach at Lincolnshire’s Witham Wheelers Cycle Club told This Is Derbyshire: "My main responsibility is to coach the youths and whilst we have facilities to coach them on closed road circuits, there are no proper velodrome facilities in Lincolnshire.
"Therefore, I have taken youngsters to Manchester and Newport to train.
"This year one of my youngsters, Peter Cocker, got an invite to attend all four sessions of the Revolution Series at Manchester – some achievement for a Lincolnshire club that does not have regular access to a track.
“The new track in Derby will shorten the distances we have to travel and give other youngsters the opportunity to follow in Peter's footsteps,” he added.
Steve Fuller of Scunthrope RC highlighted the difficulty of booking track time at Manchester, saying: "We welcome the ability to be able to continue track cycling through the winter and access a closer track, since opportunities at Manchester are rather limited."
Chairman and coach of local club Sherwood Cycling Club, Craig Watson, said that the track had long been needed by the area’s cyclists.
"There have been no local facilities for track riding except a small, oddly shaped track at Forest Town, Mansfield, or travelling to Stoke, Scunthorpe or Manchester,” he pointed out.
"This is why it's important to us in the East Midlands to get a track within a reasonable travelling distance to use at nights or weekends.
"We at Sherwood CC, along with numerous local clubs, are thrilled that we will soon have a purpose-made facility for us to use, both for current club riders and the future Olympians.
"We certainly intend to make use of the track and its other facilities."
The design of the facility, which can be converted to host concerts, puts the track at first floor level, to make the ground floor infield area, which will host sport such as badminton and basketball, easy to access. There will also be a road cycling track outside.
Another local, Chris O'Connor of Newark Castle Cycling Club also highlighted that the facility would fill a gap and do away with travelling time.
"When the velodrome opens at Derby this will be a godsend to us, for the younger and older members,” he said
"The sports arena also has a closed road circuit on it which means we can hold races on it.
"All of the Midlands' cycling clubs need, and I would say look forward to, the sports arena being open from day one."
Philip Hickson, leader of Derby City Council, told This Is Derbyshire: "There has been a lot of interest in the sports arena, showing we are creating something for which there is real demand.
"I also understand that Nottingham are quite envious of the fact we are getting this facility," he added.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.