Officially speaking, BMC had no involvement with Velodrome Suisse, but the benefits of building it here are obvious: Grenchen is centrally located, has great traffic routes, and even has its own airport just a stone’s throw away. It’s fair to say that the raw passion for cycling of Andy Rihs, President of the Foundation Council, primary owner and founder of BMC—the first sponsor of the velodrome—and the man who guaranteed an estimated 2 million Swiss Francs in startup funding, played a positive role in this public-private partnership. This site will no doubt prove to be a huge plus for not only Swiss cycling, but for the local community in general.
Velodrome Suisse is set to serve as a national cycling High Performance Center to promote young talent, both on the track itself (athletes can use the track for free) and in terms of road racing. Having won last year’s Tour de France, a crack athlete like former track specialist Bradley Wiggins is the latest example of the fact that track training is great preparation for road racing.
Velodrome Suisse consists a wooden, 250m track, which is aimed not just at meeting international standards, but at speed—the fastest in Europe if possible. Constructed from the highest quality, slow-growing Siberian spruce it will be interesting to see Fabian Cancellara attempt to set a new world hour record in the coming months. A special six-day race is due to be held in August as a foretaste of the six-day races planned for 2015, with European and World Championships considered in the not-too-distant future.
We’re avidly looking forward to the Velodrome providing the kind of sporting highlights Switzerland has been deprived of due to lack of a suitable track. The track at Oerlikon has no roof for year-round competitions and is too long at 333 meters; the track at UCI headquarters in Aigle is too short at just 200 meters long, and Geneva’s is even shorter. Zurich’s indoor stadium is only set up for six-stage races. So it’s Velodrome Suisse to the rescue!
But quite rightly, it’s not all elite sportsmanship for the Velodrome. The public-private partnership will pay its own way and is designed to to be a racetrack for the people—an exercise facility for amateur sports enthusiasts: beginners can take prepratory courses to learn the rules of the track and complete a few rounds on a track bike. ‘Bahnreife’ (track maturity) can then be attained in a course lasting several days.
The velodrome also provides high-quality rental equipment (shoes and track bikes, specially made by BMC) and those all-important parking slots. This flexible multifunctional concept means there’s a regular fitness center which can be used both for sport and training, and the open area of the Velodrome can be used as a hall for events such as seminars, concerts and exhibitions (which we have already put to the test and can confirm that it’s great!) Did we mention there’s a hotel, restaurant, and BMC Concept Store all on site? This place is heaven!