Cyclists star in London 2012 venue
The London 2012 Velodrome has become the latest London venue to play host to elite sporting action in the build-up to this year’s Olympic Games, as it welcomed cycling’s leading stars for the UCI Track Cycling World Cup from 16-19 February.
The event saw 340 riders from 48 nations and 18 trade teams compete in the four-day competition, which gave athletes the opportunity to test the Velodrome in competitive conditions ahead of this summer’s Games.
Four-time Olympic gold medallist Chris Hoy shone on the track for Great Britain, winning the keirin and sprint events as he bids to defend both titles at this year’s Games. And the 35-year-old was pleased with both his own form and the atmosphere created by the crowd, with more than 25,000 spectators filling the venue over six sessions, providing a real taste of what to expect in the Velodrome later this year.
"More than the actual result, I'm pleased about the way I rode,” said Hoy. “It's a really important step towards the Olympic Games. I've really fed off the energy of the crowd. Hopefully we can do the same at the Olympic Games.
"Honestly, I've never been to any venue, any track in the world, and seen any home nation get the support we've had here," he added. "The wall of noise when you're on the track is unbelievable. It's only a World Cup but it felt like a World Championship or the Olympic Games. Goodness knows what it will be like in a few months' time."
The World Cup event was a vital part of preparations for the London 2012 Games, as the venues are tested by the athletes ahead of this summer’s competition. During the event, key elements that were looked at included the track, athlete facilities, results, timing and scoring systems, as well as how up to 1,000 workforce and volunteers work together.
"It's a fantastic atmosphere, unbelievable," he said. "It really is the taster for the Games. We had some fantastic test events in the summer but this makes it seem as if everything is much closer. I was here when this was a piece of contaminated land so it's a dream come true. We have 1,000 people working here, including volunteers, and they will download their results and experiences and of course we will review everything."