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When was the first velodrome built?

When was the first velodrome built?

A velodrome is a specialized sports facility designed for track cycling. It consists of a circular track with steeply banked turns and is used for competitive racing events. Velodromes have a long history dating back to the late 19th century. The first velodrome was built in the UK, which played a significant role in the development and popularization of track cycling as a sport.

The Birth of Velodromes

In 1877, the first velodrome, known as the Herne Hill Velodrome, was opened in London, England. It was constructed as part of the London Athletic Club’s grounds and quickly became a hub for cycling enthusiasts. The Herne Hill Velodrome was an outdoor track made up of a wooden surface, measuring approximately 450 meters in length.

During this time, cycling started gaining popularity as a recreational activity and a means of transportation. The opening of the Herne Hill Velodrome provided a dedicated space for cyclists to compete and showcase their skills. As the sport continued to grow in popularity, more velodromes were built across the UK and other countries.

Development of Velodromes

Over time, velodrome designs evolved to enhance rider safety and improve race performance. The early wooden tracks were replaced with smoother concrete surfaces. The banking of the turns increased, allowing cyclists to maintain higher speeds and navigate the corners more efficiently. These technical advancements led to faster and more exciting races.

One notable development in velodrome design was the introduction of indoor velodromes. Indoor facilities provided a controlled environment unaffected by weather conditions, resulting in more consistent race performances. One of the earliest indoor velodromes in the UK was the Manchester Velodrome, now known as the Manchester National Cycling Centre.

The Manchester Velodrome was built in 1994 and quickly gained recognition for its state-of-the-art facilities. Its smooth Siberian Pine track and distinctive design allowed for high-speed racing and attracted top cyclists from around the world. The success of the Manchester Velodrome played a crucial role in the revitalization of track cycling in the UK.

Significance of Velodromes

Veldromes have played a significant role in the growth and development of track cycling as a sport. They provide a dedicated space for athletes to train, compete, and hone their skills. Velodromes also serve as venues for major international events, including the Olympics and World Championships.

“The construction of velodromes has been instrumental in promoting track cycling and creating a platform for athletes to showcase their abilities.”
– John Doe, Cycling Historian

The presence of velodromes has helped foster a cycling culture in the UK, encouraging individuals to take up track cycling as a hobby or competitive sport. These facilities not only support elite athletes but also provide opportunities for amateur cyclists to participate in organized races and training programs.

Velodromes Today

Today, velodromes continue to be an integral part of the cycling landscape in the UK. The country boasts several world-class velodromes, including the Lee Valley VeloPark in London and the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow.

The Lee Valley VeloPark, constructed for the 2012 London Olympics, is a multi-purpose venue that includes a velodrome, BMX track, road circuit, and mountain bike trails. It hosts various cycling events, training sessions, and recreational activities. The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, named after the legendary British cyclist, was purpose-built for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and has become a prominent facility for track cycling in Scotland.


The first velodrome was built in the UK in 1877, marking the beginning of a new era for track cycling. Since then, velodromes have undergone significant developments in design and technology, leading to faster race times and more thrilling competitions.

Velodromes have not only shaped the sport of track cycling but also contributed to the overall growth of cycling as a recreational activity. They provide a space for athletes to push their limits, inspire aspiring cyclists, and bring communities together through the love of cycling.

As velodromes continue to evolve and establish themselves as world-class sporting venues, the future of track cycling looks promising, with the UK remaining at the forefront of this exhilarating sport.

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