Cycle club warns closure of velodrome would have huge impact on future of cycling in Cardiff
Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter
A Cardiff cycling club which helped foster the career of Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas has come out in opposition to plans for it to move.
Cardiff Council has proposed expanding Cathays High School to allow for a higher intake and to provide students with an improved facility.
The development would see the loss of Maindy Velodrome, which opened in 1951. A new velodrome at the Cardiff International Sports Village in Grangetown will be built as a replacement.
After years of debate over the plans between the council and interested parties, the Maindy Flyers cycling club who use Maindy Velodrome has come out to oppose what it sees as a move that would have a huge impact on the future of cycling in Cardiff.
In an open letter to the leader of Cardiff Council, Cllr Huw Thomas, and Councillors Jennifer Burke Davies and Russell Goodway, the Maindy Flyers said: “The club has been told on multiple occasions that the destruction of Maindy Cycling track is a certain and an inevitable outcome.
“Either we support and move to a new proposed site or be left with nothing.
“The prospect of being left with nothing for future generations of cyclists, and potential future athletes, having the opportunity to contribute to the next chapter of the sports history is an unacceptable outcome.
“This loss to the sport in South Wales, is something the club has taken very seriously in a considered and measured approach.
“Whilst the club has had this specific threat of loss of all cycling facilities looming over us, we have initially tried to set about working constructively to make a new cycling facility work.
“It has now reached a point where the club have been saddened with the level of constructive engagement with us, as a whole, during this process.
“The clubs experience, thoughts, and concerns throughout this period of time have been given no regard by the council.”
Since it was formed in 1995, the Maindy Flyers club has seen an array of cyclists who have gone on to win Olympic medals and Commonwealth Games medals.
The club only recently asked its membership to vote on whether or not to support the plans for the club to move to a new velodrome.
Over 80% voted to oppose the move to Grangetown, with the club citing a number of reasons, including the distance members will have to travel, the size of the new track (a reduction of about 127 meters from the current one), and the potential higher cost of having to use the new facility.
Another concern that the club has is the proposed banking of the new velodrome, which will be about 10 degrees steeper than the facility at Maindy. This is something that the club thinks could prevent less experienced riders from using the track.
Cardiff Council has attempted to allay fears about this, saying that it has received expert advice assuring them that the maximum banking of the new track, 28 degrees, will not hinder who is able to use it.
Welsh Cycling and Welsh Triathlon have also given their support to the new velodrome.
Welsh Cycling said they also support the closed road circuit proposed as part of the new velodrome, adding that they see it as a “critical part of the project to ensure cycling in organised group activities is accessible to all.”
However, the Maindy Flyers are still not convinced that the move will be of benefit to them or the future of cycling in Cardiff.
Their letter to the council adds: “When considering the ultimate question, ‘Does the change of moving to Cardiff Bay enhance or hamper the ability of Maindy Flyers Cycling Club to remain the most successful cycling club in the world?’ the overwhelming answer from the clubs’ members is, it hampers.”
A Cardiff Council spokesperson said: “While the Council fully understands the historic nature of the Maindy site, and of course Maindy Flyers deep connection to the site, the new Velodrome retains the support of the National Governing Bodies for Cycling and other sports, including Triathlon and Athletics, and other cycling and sports clubs and groups within the City, including those who frequently use the existing facility at Maindy.
“The council has been guided by expert technical advice on the design of the velodrome track that has confirmed that the track geometry will be suitable for riders of all ages and at all levels, using both road and track bikes, and during adverse weather conditions.
“Dialogue with Maindy Flyers will continue and a report, due to be considered by Cabinet in May, will fully address all the points being raised.”
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