Olympic cycling champion Laura Trott believes the newly opened London 2012 cycling venue will be a huge asset for cyclists in Waltham Forest, and that future world champions may come from the borough.
Speaking to the Guardian at the Lee Valley VeloPark’s opening today, the reigning Olympic team pursuit and omnium champion also pushed for improved safety around cycle lanes in the borough.
Opening to the public on March 31, a post-Games transformation has turned the 30 acre park into the only venue in the world combining a velodrome, a BMX track, a floodlit road track and mountain bike trails.
“I think we really will see the next generation of kids coming to this track,” VeloPark ambassador Laura Trott said.
Local children will be encouraged to take up cycling now and future world champions will come from nearby areas including Waltham Forest, she said.
She added that £30million secured for cycling improvements in the borough would help increase the already rising popularity of cycling and depth of talent.
“For us the bike lanes need to improve,” she said.
“I think giving the funding is a massive step forward and when a lot of them [cycle lanes] are improved it will really help cycling safety a lot.
“There’d be no reason you shouldn’t cycle here, so it’d be nice to think you could get here safely.
“I’m pretty sure you’re going to get a lot of talent coming from here”.
She called the velodrome, the third international standard track in Britain, the best she has ever ridden but disputed Lee Valley Regional Park Authority’s claim that it is the fastest in the world.
She added that she felt Mexico’s track is faster because of its altitude
The VeloPark will host major events and also be open to cyclists of all abilities.
Derrick Ashley, LVRPA chairman, described the VeloPark as a world-class venue with the community at heart.
And Shaun Dawson, LVRPA chief executive, said people who live near the park will feel a connection with the facility, rather than feel as if major events take priority over the local community.
“It’s absolutely crucial that there is a sense of ownership and relevance for local communities,” Mr Dawson said.
“This is a community asset and it’s for the community.”
He added that elite events comprise only five per cent of the VeloPark’s programme and that 75 school sessions and 135 club sessions will take place each month.
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