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Page last updated at 12:22 GMT, Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Velodrome for London 2012 Olympics is opened

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Take a ride round the Olympic Velodrome

The 6,000-seat velodrome for the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics was officially opened on Tuesday.

The venue for track cycling, expected to come in under its budget at around £93m, is the first to be completed at the Olympic Park.

Sir Chris Hoy, who won three cycling gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, helped in the design.

"The new velodrome is going to be the best in the world. I can't wait until I can compete on it," he said.

London 2012 chairman Lord Coe described the VeloPark as "a stunning venue built for champions".

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It took a team of 26 carpenters eight weeks to install the Siberian pine track and more than 350,000 nails were used on its 56km of timber surface.

A full photo gallery of the new velodrome can be seen on the BBC website.

Organisers are also billing it as the world's fastest cycling track, thanks to a range of tailored features including the track geometry plus the temperature and environmental conditions.

"It will be nice when we turn up on race day for the first day of competition at the Olympics," added four-time Olympic champion Hoy.

"All of the Union Jacks will be out and, hopefully, the noise and the atmosphere will give us an advantage, maybe put the fear of death into the other countries, too."

KEY DATES: TRACK CYCLING
23-27 MARCH 2011
2011 World Championships, Netherlands
4-8 APRIL 2012
2012 World Championships, Melbourne, Australia
8 APRIL 2012
Olympic Track Ranking closes, qualification places allocated after this point

Hoy has ridden on the finished London 2012 cycle track along with fellow Beijing winners Victoria Pendleton and Jason Kenny.

A team of British sprint stars all aiming for success at next year's Games have also given the chance to ride on it.

"Having been involved in a very small way in the design process in the early stages, it's amazing to see the velodrome finally completed," said Hoy.

"To be able to have ridden on it gives me a feel for what it's going to be like. I can't wait."

The Olympic Delivery Authority started construction work on the velodrome in March 2009.

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The venue is in line to stage a test event in early 2012.

Having seating wrapped all the way round the track should help to create a crowd atmosphere during events, according to Hoy.

"No matter where you are in the stadium, you can see the full track," said the 34-year-old Scot.

"Instead of having noise in the back straight and the home straight as you go around, you get this wall of noise the whole way. It creates this gladiatorial arena."

ODA chairman John Armitt said: "In delivering the velodrome on time and to budget, we have completed our first Olympic Park venue and our biggest milestone to date.

"The striking architecture of the velodrome and the medal prospects of our world-leading cyclists mean the venue will become one of the defining images from the Games, and a landmark new building for future generations to enjoy."

Olympic velodrome construction in 30 seconds

After the Games, the velodrome will be used by elite athletes and the local community.

It will include a cafe, bike hire and cycle workshop facilities.

Track cycling was Great Britain's most successful discipline in Beijing, with Hoy's haul and four other titles accounting for more than a third of Team GB's overall total of 19 gold medals.

Britain will be pushing to beat that at London 2012, although a rule change means only one rider/team per nation is allowed to compete in each of 10 track cycling events.



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London 2012 - begin your journey here

see also
In pictures: Olympic velodrome
22 Feb 11 |  UK
Wheel of fortune
22 Feb 11 |  UK
Hoy in good shape for World Champs
27 Feb 11 |  Olympics
Pendleton admits to 2012 pressure
17 Feb 11 |  Cycling
London 2012 test events unveiled
24 Feb 11 |  London 2012
First brand new 2012 venue opens
09 Dec 10 |  London 2012
Hoy does first lap of 2012 velodrome
27 Jul 10 |  London 2012
Olympics 2012 venue guide
03 Dec 08 |  Olympics
Plans for 2012 VeloPark unveiled
08 Sep 08 |  London


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