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Between the 16th – 19th of February the boards of the London Olympic Park Velodrome were home to the last round of the 2011/12Track World Cup. But this blog’s not about the racing, it’s about the venue. The first Olympic venue to be finished and the first to see some proper action.

On a recent trip to London I caught sight of it and it looks amazing, it’s certainly a smart looking building. A world away from the usual steel ovals that house tracks.

So eye catching and cutting edge that it was shortlisted for the 2011 RIBA Stirling Prize, a coveted British architect award.

The building was started back in March 2009 following a competition in 2007 to find a design. ‘Hopkins Architects’ won and work was finished 18 months before the start of the 2012 Olympic Games.

“The Pringle”, as it’s been nicknamed, sits in the London Velopark, a new area of London all designed especially for the Olympics. Other facilities in this area include a BMX racing track, a one mile (1.6km) road racing circuit and a mountain bike track along with links to the city and rest of the Olympic Park via a cycle lane network. All very cool.

The new venue is state of the art. The climate controlled building has been designed to be the world’s fastest track. The 2012 organisers clearly want some records breaking.

Ron Webb, a famed track designer, oversaw the design and installation of the track. He has an amazing track record* working on both the Sydney and Athens velodromes.

The 6000 seats go all the way around the circuit so don’t expect the usual  “waahayyyyy”……..”waahayyyyy” from either side of the track but a lovely  continuous WAAHAYYYYY all the way round from the lucky crowd.

It took 26 specialist carpenters 8 weeks to install the 56km of sustainably sourced Siberian surface timber. That’s got to be a lot of splinters. All held in place by 300,000 nails.

Inside the building, along with the 250m UCI approved track, there is also a cafe (so the athletes can get a good coffee before starting their race), bike hire centre, workshop, gym, physio, 8 changing rooms and storage for over 300 bikes.

To build the velodrome 48,000 cubic metres of material were removed from the site to create the bowl the venue occupies.

The outside of the building is pretty special. Covered in Western Red Cedar Timber, small vents in the structure allow for a natural ventilation system. The track has a 360 degree concourse level between the track and the seating that is all glass, allowing a great view of the Olympic Park and London from the track side. If the riders have time to admire this then they’re not trying hard enough, but for us mere mortals when the venue opens to the public I’m sure it’s going to be a treat.

The building’s pretty forward thinking too. A super lightweight construction, water saving features and loads of natural light help to reduce the structure’s impact on the environment (a bit like a bike in essence).

We’ve already seen that the new velodrome has lived up to the famed record breaking properties boasted during design. A date in your diary to keep free is the 2nd of August when the race is on for those fancy metal necklaces that they hand out in three colours.

Can't sprint like Sir Chris Hoy or get to London? Take the action home with a Scalextric version.

*Pun definitely intended

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