Manchester Velodrome, the home of British Cycling at the HSBC UK National Cycling Centre, which served as the training base for modern British cycling heroes such as Sir Chris Hoy, Sir Bradley Wiggins and Dame Laura Kenny, has reopened after two years following a £27 million refurbishment.
The velodrome was opened in 1994, amidst scrutiny and eagle eyes, dubbed in the media as the "white elephant" during its controversial first few years. However since then, the velodrome has went on to produce legends etched in British cycling history, cited as the major catalyst for Britain's successes in track and road cycling. It also caught on to a new name: "the Medal Factory".
While it was the home of British Cycling since its opening day, it also became the home of Team Sky, now known as Ineos Grenadiers, between 2010 and 2019, a period when the team won 6 Tour de France, 2 Vuelta a Espana and 1 Giro d'Italia with Great Britain riders.
In 2017, the Manchester Velodrome was renamed as the HSBC UK National Cycling Centre, altogether with the entire complex of the aforementioned illustrious velodrome, the BMX complex, mountain bike trails and the sports court.
National Cycling Centre, UK’s first electric Velodrome officially open ✂️thanks to all partners @ManCityCouncil @LisaDoddMayne @Sport_England @BritishCycling @N_CyclingCentre @Better_Mcr @hacking4chorltz pic.twitter.com/mi4AZM7GjP
— MCRactive (@MCRActive) September 2, 2023
It was also the site of protest by climate activist group Extinction Rebellion, with protesters having climbed onto the entrance of the National Cycling Centre to protest British Cycling's partnership with global petrochemical giant Shell.
Urgent repairs to the ageing centre were approved in 2021, after a report warned the building, could develop "catastrophic" failures. Architects said parts of the velodrome were "approaching end of life" and "essential" refurbishment was needed.
Now finally, after two years of repairs and a £27 million bill, the velodrome has reopened and is raring to go once again, with the Manchester City Council hoping that the renovated hub will help the area become the first European capital of cycling in 2024, the BBC has reported.
Councillor John Hacking said: "We have invested significantly in cycling and active travel, but we want to move on to a different level."
He said most of the venue's funding - provided by Sport England, and local and central government - had been invested in heating and mechanical operations.
"It is not only about medals and starting pistols. It's actually about allowing people to aspire to being healthier, to moving more," Hacking said.
British Cycling chief Jon Dutton, who joined the organisation in April amidst a series of controversies, including its transgender participation policy and the infamous Shell sponsorship, said the organisation had been "proud to call Manchester our home for almost three decades".
A European sporting delegation attended the velodrome's relaunch, after Manchester submitted a bid to become the continent's inaugural capital of cycling next year. They will also see the annual Tour of Britain in the city on Sunday.
Officials hope the bid will lead to more cycling funds, as they plan for bicycles to become the default choice for short journeys by 2038 - as part of a net-zero target for carbon emissions.
Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.