Velodrome impresses Olympic cyclists

The hard hats and high-vis vests were outnumbered by Olympic medals on one very important Cambridge construction site yesterday.

Members of the Olympic cycling team were given a look at development of the new Home of Cycling Avantidrome - or velodrome to most - at St Peters School.

The $28.5 million facility is expected to open in late 2013 and will feature a world-class 250-metre track, more than 2000sqm of space for tenants, and a cafe. It will be linked to BMX, road, trail and mountain biking facilities. On hand to check out its progress were Aaron Gate and Westley Gough from the Team Pursuit, Simon Van Velthooven from the keirin, Rushlee Buchanan, Jaime Nielsen, Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Kurt Pickard.

Also there to check out progress was BMX silver medallist Sarah Walker.

Although more at home at the nearby Leamington BMX track, she said she was impressed by what she saw of the velodrome.

"This is going to be something everyone benefits from.

"With the next Olympics only four years away this is something that will see cycling numbers go up and up, it will encourage more people to take up the sport. And hopefully that means we will get more and more medals," she said.

Buchanan - who at Te Awamutu lives in cycling distance to the velodrome - said she could barely stop grinning at the site of the facility finally being built.

"It is hard to put into words the importance of something like this; it is awesome.

"Cambridge is so accessible for cyclists, for athletes, this facility will be amazing."

The whole of the Waikato was a good riding environment, she said.

"This velodrome is safe: it's not in the middle of the city, and it will be surrounded by miles and miles of superb riding roads," she said. "It is going to be one of the best in the world."

Earlier in the day the riders visited Cambridge Primary School to meet its young pupils and, all going well, inspire a few future Olympians on their road to glory.

They were guests of honour at an assembly, where they answered questions from the students and created a near-riot when they generously passed their medals around lots of pairs of little hands.

"It was so great to see all those kids and I remember watching the Olympics when I was little and dreaming one day I would make it there myself," said Walker.