Massive boost for SA cycling
Johannesburg - South African cycling will soon benefit from the first wooden indoor cycling track after the International Cycling Union (UCI) signed a memorandum of understanding with the North-West University (NWU) on Thursday.
The velodrome will be built on the Fanie du Toit sports grounds on the NWU's Potchefstroom campus.
It was further announced at a media briefing in Johannesburg that undertakings had been made in conjunction with Cycling South Africa (CSA) to build a BMX Supercross cycling track at the same venue.
It will be both an Africa World Cycling Centre (ACCC) and an internationally accredited A-grade track.
The multi-million rand facility would be the first on the African continent and could see the North-West town host an international track cycling circuit.
Director of the International Cycling Union's World Cycling Centre Frédéric Magne and NWU vice-chancellor Theuns Eloff signed the memorandum of understanding.
Magn said it was the first time that the UCI has signed such a memorandum with a private entity.
"The UCI is very dedicated to this project and hopefully in a few months we will see the opening of the velodrome," said Magn.
"It will be the place if you want to do indoor cycling on the African continent."
Both cycling tracks will comply with international standards, making it possible to host future national and international cycling competitions such as the South African and African Championships, the World Cup and the World Championships.
The velodrome will consist of an indoor 250-metre wooden-surface cycling track with a sunken infield where other indoor sports such as netball, basketball, volleyball, fencing and weightlifting could be hosted.
The first phase construction which would account for the indoor facilities would cost an estimated R75 million.
The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund granted the NWU R15 million in support of the project.
The land the facilities will be built on is owned by the university and is worth approximately R12-million.
The rest of the money for the first phase will, according to Eloff, come from naming rights which they would sell for R40-million.
Eloff said the signing of the memorandum would now give the project some much needed momentum.
"We first have to go through formal process and we need to secure sponsors for the naming rights," said Eloff.
"I think we can start building by the end of this year and we would like to see the first events by early next year."
He said they had already ordered the Siberian wood from Russia.
The actual track would be built by master builder from Germany and Switzerland.
The velodrome will not only be used as a practice and competition facility but will also be used for training and research by the NWU.
This development will take place under the banner of the NWU PUK Cycling Academy in cooperation with the ACCC.
Former Olympic cyclist Jean-Pierre van Zyl who manages the ACCC said the new facilities would create cycling champions and more medals at Olympic Games.
"By 2016 we will win medals and introduce cycling to the rest of the continent," said Van Zyl.