Velodrome is the ‘way to go’ insists former Olympian

Paul Slane pictured at  Slane cycle shop in Belfast with his staff
Paul Slane pictured at Slane cycle shop in Belfast with his staff

Former Olympic cyclist Paul Slane believes that those with their hands on the purse strings here should build a velodrome in order to encourage people into the sport.

Slane, who competed in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and owns a busy independent cycling shop along with his brother Andy in Andersonstown, is adamant that it is definitely the way to go.

He believes that Belfast could emulate Manchester which is now the central training hub of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Olympic track squad.

Slane believes that it would be an ideal to ‘get ‘em young’, and teach boys and girls the proper way of the sport indoors and therefore develop the skills required before entering the world of mountain biking and road cycling.

“You look what it has done in England. It has brought their riders on to a different level. We have a world champion here in Martyn Irvine and he has to go to England or Spain to train and it is crazy he has to do that.

“It would be great that on the back of the Giro, the Government can get the money for a track, either outdoor or indoors.

“They have missed opportunities to strike before when they could have got funding and backing. The track in Manchester, and also in the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome in Glasgow are both booked up six months in advance, so it should be financially viable when it materialises.

“In many ways an indoor track is like a carnival with people going along who are not really interested in cycling. They go to enjoy the entertainment, I suppose something akin to the ice-hockey in the Odyssey.

“So get a track, get the parents involved, so that they know their children are safe, its indoors and they are learning all about biking and the skills needed plus it is brilliant healthwise.

“So hopefully they will reap the whirlwind from the Giro,” said Paul who believes that the government has done plenty so far, but could do better.

“They have done really well with the ‘Cycle to Work Scheme’ and some cycle lanes. But I would love to see proper cycle lanes incorporated into any new infrastructure, and I mean proper cycle lanes that are kept clear of debris,”