YESTERDAY, for the first time, cyclists were able to try out their new track at the National Cycling Velodrome in Couva, next to Ato Boldon Stadium. And they had only good reports for Sport Minister Brent Sancho who visited the facility.
The Velodrome, one of the mega projects undertaken by the government, is due to be completed in June. Most of the infrastructural works are already completed. The facility was built by Shanghai Construction Limited and the track was built by German company Schurmann Architects, the top contracted company globally for cycling tracks.
Ralph Schuermann, head of the company, said: ‘’It’s a track of international standard. It is 250 metres long, 12 metres wide and it is designed after the latest state-of-the-art track. I heard already from the cyclists that they feel it is very fast. That was our intention. It will be a good place to train for the Olympic games because of the shape of it. The track will be similar to the Olympic one so there are no issues anymore. The track is there so let’s see Trinidad and Tobago at the Olympics.”
When asked what made the track different, Schuermann said: “It’s an asymmetrical design where the exits of the bands are steeper than the entry which makes the riders stay on his line and compensates for the centrifugal forces and the riders feel that they are forgetting about the track and this is our aim. It’s our work but we want them to forget about the track so they can fully concentrate only on their performance.”
Schuermann added: “The surface is from Siberia and the construction itself for the other parts are from Germany and shipped here in 11 containers. All pre fabrication and numbered so it is just assembled here.” This is the company’s 144th track. Though he did not give the actual cost of the track, Schuermann pointed out tracks built internationally usually cost between (Euros) 1 million and 2 million.
Robert Farrier, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation, said: ‘’To local tracks, this does not compare. It is totally different. We do not have one like this in the Caribbean. There are a number of tracks in Mexico, one in Columbia but in this region, nothing like it so I think we should be making a home, not only for Trinidad, but the Caribbean on the whole.” He said federation was putting together utilisation plans.
Meanwhile, local cycling legend Gene Samuel said: “It is beautiful. These are the tracks that we see away and we only get few days to use it before our competitions, so having track that they can use is going to be tremendous support and improvement for all of the riders and save us serious money in the long run because the guys won’t have to go away to spend time on international tracks.
“I think it’s going to bring development to future riders. I expect now that they will be more discipline and try to see what the ministry and the Government has put out for them to do their part because they always complain about the lack of facilities. I always hear excuses, now they need to make it happen,” added Samuel.
And 2012 Olympian Njisane Phillip said the facility was one of the best in the region. “I had the opportunity to ride (yesterday) and the track is very smooth. I love the transitions and I am just happy to see it here in Trinidad and Tobago now. The venue itself is really nice, we’ve got everything.
“All we ever want in Trinidad and Tobago was to get this. Everyone’s head is one, everyone has the focus, everyone has that drive and we’ve been doing it without this. All we have to do is just utilise it now. It is here for us and the sky is the limit,” added Phillip.