Irish cycling boost as “major announcement” due on new indoor velodrome

Posted on: February 3rd, 2014

Many on the Irish cycling scene believe a new indoor velodrome must be the legacy of the current cycling boom and that securing one will make the sport bigger and stronger, with consequences beyond the track to off road and road. The success of Great Britain could not be emulated by a small country like Ireland, but success for Team GB and Australia across all areas of the sport has been built on the foundations of a successful track programme. Is Cuchulainn CC about to pull off a big coup?


By Shane Stokes

As world scratch race champion Martyn Irvine continues his build-up towards the defence of his title later this month and Caroline Ryan ramps up her preparation to try and win her second Worlds medal, Ireland’s push for a covered velodrome appears to be inching a step closer to reality.

Stickybottle understands an important announcement on the project is imminent, with news expected to come this week.

It is thought to be linked to the Cuchulainn club in Dundalk, Co Louth, which has been working hard for several years to try to secure a velodrome for that region.

In February of last year the club was granted planning permission by Dundalk Town Council to build a 250 metre outdoor velodrome, a 360 metre BMX track and a pump track at Hoey’s Lane, Dundalk.

The following month the club approached the Minister for Sport Michael Ring seeking support for the project. It was boosted by the endorsement of Irvine, who had just become Ireland’s first elite track world champion in over 100 years.

At that meeting with Ring, it was argued the chances of further Irish success would be considerably boosted if government support was given to the Dundalk project, which eventually envisaged the velodrome being covered.

At the same time, Cycling Ireland was working on separate plans to install an already-purchased track into a pre-existing building. The former Fruitfield factory site in Tallaght, west Dublin, was considered but this project never progressed.

The federation was also trying to get government commitment for a velodrome in Abbotstown, west Dublin, as part of the so-called Bertie Bowl sporting campus.

That project would see Cycling Ireland share a building housing a velodrome with Badminton Ireland.

Cuchulainn CC’s chairman Pat O’Shaughnessy previously spoke to stickybottle about the club’s project in Dundalk, explaining last year what was planned at that point in time.

When he spoke it was envisaged an outdoor track would be built which would eventually have a roof erected. However, the major decision due as soon as this week is believed to relate to a different project; one that would be indoors from the beginning.

It would also be in place considerably sooner than in three years time as had been initially anticipated.

“We have five years on the planning for starters. Immediately we are going to start with a pump track for children, because we have fifty children practicing on a Monday night, which is very exciting,” O’Shaughnessy said last year when discussing the initial plans.

“We have some applications in line and we are also talking to two benefactors. We would hope that by this time next year there would be enough done.

“We always saw it as a five year plan to get groundworks done. We are now two years into it with seven acres of land, with full planning permission. So we are ahead of schedule. The pump track will leave us well ahead of schedule.”

As regards the velodrome itself, he said then it would take a little longer to achieve.

“With the benefactors, I think we are still set for five years. If I was really pushed, I would say that we will have it over the line in five years. By that I mean a roofed track… an outdoors track would be sooner.”

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Ireland has outdoor velodromes at Sundrive Road in Crumlin, Dublin, Orangefield in Belfast and in Kanturk in Co Cork.

However it has no indoor track, something which is considered vital to boost the chances of international riders coming through.

At present riders such as Irvine, Ryan and others have had to go abroad to train on high quality tracks, greatly increasing the cost of preparation for World Cups, world championships and other events.

In addition to that, the lack of a covered velodrome makes it more difficult for children to be introduced to track racing and for emerging competitors to be able to regularly train at a high level. O’Shaughnessy is clear on the benefits that will be in store with an indoor track.

“When Martyn came back [after the worlds], he was very open and frank and said that in the absence of such a facility, it was quite difficult for people to train because of the costs of training away.

“So when you see the likes of Martyn coming through and doing what he did by travelling abroad, you would have to say it is of benefit to Irish cycling.

“We also found that something as little as a pump track is bringing extra people into cycling. By doing that you are opening up to a wider base of athletes, which in turn feeds into the plan to make things happen.”

We’ll bring you word of any announcement just as soon as we get it ourselves.