New velodrome 'can host world's best cycling events'
Minor problems remain, but HKCA are delighted with Tseung Kwan O site
Problems remain to be fixed, but the soon-to-open Tseung Kwan O velodrome means the city will be able to stage the world's biggest track competitions, says the Hong Kong Cycling Association.
The HK$600 million venue will receive its first test at the 2014 Hong Kong International Track Cup from January 10-12.
A UCI (International Cycling Union) class one event, 170 riders from Australia, Ireland, China, South Korea, Japan, Uzbekistan, India, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan will participate.
"This is a good opportunity to test both the hardware and software of the new venue, and we hope in a couple of years' time, we gain sufficient experience to stage top-class events such as the Asian Championships and the World Cup," said HKCA chairman Leung Hung-tak.
"Financial backing is one of the major concerns, but with the fast-improving results of Hong Kong track riders, I am sure more commercial sponsors will be attracted in future." It is estimated a World Cup event would cost HK$10 million to host; January's competition is budgeted at HK$2.3 million.
Leung said he was hugely impressed by the new facility, and it had the potential to become a record-breaking venue.
"It provides a good environment for the riders. Lighting, temperature, support facilities are made to the highest standard, although there are still some minor problems with the track surface that needed to be fixed," said Leung. "As far as we understand, the track construction company from Germany will send a maintenance team to Hong Kong next month to deal with the problems."
Olympic medallist Sarah Lee Wai-sze said the track surface was not smooth enough as some of the pine planks did not fit well. But Hong Kong coach Shen Jinkang said that was not uncommon with new velodromes.
"The tests are done to identify the problems, so that they can be fixed as soon as possible," said the coach.
"The surface does not worry me too much as it is only a technical problem.
"Indeed, other countries were very excited about Hong Kong's new venue during the team managers' meeting at the last World Cup series in Manchester. They all want to see Hong Kong stage a World Cup leg and I don't think time will be too far away."
Shen said it would transform the long-term development of track cycling in Hong Kong, attracting more and more youngsters with potential.
"Although Lee won Olympic bronze, the depth of our track team is far from ideal," he said.
"We need a good feeder system to produce more and more quality riders coming through the ranks and [this] will certainly play a pivotal role."