Welcome to the velodrome

Lee Wellings finds himself hot but excited as action starts in the Olympic Park's velodrome


    I'm not sure a journey to the earth's core - as featured in old Hollywood movies - would be as hot as the brand new Olympic velodrome on competition day.

    But you need to battle to avoid passing out because finally, after years of anticipation, the action is underway. Six frenetic days of track cycling with the host nation expecting to be collecting a host of medals.

    It's immediately clear this is a FAST track. You could argue most Olympic tracks are fast but this screams out world records. The velodrome was designed with input from the British team who dominated in Beijing.

    The velodrome was the first of the Olympic venues to be completed, early last year, part of a 'VeloPark' that was on budget at just under $150 million taking less than two years to finish. It sent out a real message that seriously good progress had been made with the construction of the Olympic Park.

    It's a sustainable 'green' venue using Siberian pine timber and red cedar panels to help control airflow with the distinctive curved roof nicknamed 'The Pringle' after the potato snacks. (I hope that reference doesn't upset the IOC sponsorship police).

    There are 6,000 seats and the design is stunning. Every little details has been thought about. The heat is inevitable. The venue has to be airlocked, and it's the temperature on the track that counts, it would be far hotter if the air flow wasn't doing its bit.

    The designers even met the cyclist's request for toilets close - if mercifully out of view - to the track.

    When the games finish this venue is going nowhere - this is a genuine part of the all-important legacy, designed to be the hub of cycling in this country.

    And it's difficult to overstate just how big cycling is becoming here in the UK. Everyone (not me, everyone else) seems to be on their bikes. The incredible medal haul in Beijing sold a fair few sets of wheels, and as for Mr Wiggins and his Tour de France exploits....

    And so the noise in the velodrome - generated mainly by enthusiastic British fans with golden tickets - matches the heat.

    How they roar at a men's Team Pursuit world record in qualifying by the British quartet. How they UP the noise when Chris Hoy and the team sprint team break a world record too to reach the Olympic final - the noise when they win gold later is nearly ear-splitting.

    And a cacophony of boos for the disqualification of Victoria Pendleton and partner Jessica Varnish in the sprint pairs which ends their medal hopes for the night.

    The Chinese pair of Gong and Guo are disqualified after the final for the same problems with changeover - they thought they had won gold.

    The losers have toilets nearby to shed their tears.

    They've waited years for this moment and the heat is on.

    Welcome to the velodrome.



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