First look at Leeds' Â£5m Brownlee Centre and cycle circuit
But officials behind the new £5m Brownlee Centre, and a mile-long cycle track next to it on university land in north Leeds, say it will be a worthwhile investment for more than just elite athletes.
Eight months after claiming gold and silver in the Rio Olympics, Alistair and Jonny Brownlee will tomorrow open the facility, which will be the training base for the city’s elite performance team.
The UK’s first purpose-built triathlon training base, it will combine a strength and conditioning training suite, physiotherapy, medical and other support services, to provide world-class facilities for triathlon training in the region.
It looks out onto a closed road cycle track which is one of the longest in the country and will offer cyclists of all abilities the chance to train in a traffic-free environment.
City cycling clubs are already chomping at the bit to use the site, and there is a full programme of activity including ‘pay and pedal’ sessions and HSBC Breeze Rides for women and girls. Bikes for children and adults are available to hire, along with hand cycles, trikes and tandems for use by riders with disabilities.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s official launch, Alistair Brownlee said: “This day marks a great day for cycling in Yorkshire. The start of the Tour de Yorkshire builds on a fantastic legacy and, thanks to these new facilities, Leeds continues to be a real centre for excellence when it comes to cycling and triathlon.”
His brother Jonny said: “This centre and circuit will inspire everyone, from beginners through to elite athletes.”
Patrick Craig, assistant head of sport at the University of Leeds, said the new centre replaced a “very dated 1960s sports pavilion” that had seen little investment.
He said rugby, football and ultimate frisbee would still be played on the sports fields next to the cycle circuit, which as well as being used for cycling would be suitable for running, inline-skating and even roller skiing.
He said: “This is about enhancing the experience for our students. We have a community of 33,000 students, providing a facility like this is part of the experience they expect.”
Mark Burrows of British Cycling said there were currently only 23 closed road cycle circuits in the UK, a total much smaller than the number of swimming pools and running tracks nationwide, as cycling had traditionally been done on the road.
He said there had been talk of a circuit of Leeds for ten years, which had now become reality, alongside similar facilities that have opened in recent years in Wakefield, Elland, Hull and Sheffield.
Joe Krasinski, from Leeds cycling club albaRosa, stressed the importance of the new facilities for local clubs.
He said: “This is a fabulous addition to the flourishing Leeds cycling landscape for youth and adult club members. Having had a session on the circuit, we were simply blown away by the professional facilities, the size and challenge of the circuit, its flexible use potential and welcoming staff.”
The club provides youth coaching on Thursday evenings and race skills and fitness training on Monday evenings.