Andy Rihs initiates project ‘Velodrome Suisse,’ new track hoped open by January 2013
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Andy Rihs initiates project ‘Velodrome Suisse,’ new track hoped open by January 2013

by VeloNation Press at 9:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Track
 
Swiss cycling federation and top riders endorse aims to build track in Granges region

Andy RihsHaving put millions into the sport of cycling via the Phonak and BMC Racing teams, Swiss entrepreneur Andy Rihs is behind a bid to build a new velodrome in the Granges region of Switzerland. The project has the endorsement of Swiss cycling, and stated goals are the formation of future world champions plus the holding of international competitions.

What is known as ‘Velodrome Switzerland’ was officially launched yesterday in the town of Grenchen, where Rihs and others spoke at the Théâtre du Parc. It is envisaged that the project will have a maximum projected cost of 15 million Swiss Francs, with Rihs pledging two million of that. A further two million will come from the town, while the remaining eleven million is expected to be financed through fund raising and sponsorships.

Project manager Beat Zbinden said that it is hoped that work will begin in February and competed by January 2013.

“We are writing a new chapter in the history of sport in Switzerland. With the project Velodrome Suisse, we offer a new infrastructure to ensure the success of the national sport of cycling,” said Rihs. “We will have here a high level training centre where we will shape the champions of the future.”

The model being used is that of countries such as Britain and Australia, where riders traditionally compete on the track early on and then later go into road racing. Riders such as Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Geraint Thomas, Cameron Meyer, Jack Bobridge and others have followed this path, and it is hoped that the same blueprint would work in Switzerland.

The 250 metre track would be situated roughly in the centre of the country, and it is suggested that this would make the track more accessible than those in Geneva, Aigle and Oerlikon.

Velodrome SuisseMelchior Ehrler, President of Swiss Cycling, claimed the benefits would be huge. “The Velodrome Switzerland will be gold for the sport of cycling,” he said. “Granges will become the Mecca of cycling. Andy Rihs has shown great foresight, we will shape future world champions here. We intend to move the offices of Swiss Cycling to Grange.”

The project has also been backed by Olympic and multiple world champion Fabian Cancellara, Karin Thürig, and Bruno Risi, plus the organisers of the Tour de Suisse and Tour de Romandie. Gian Gilli, head of high performance sport in the Swiss Olympic Association, has said that such projects are necessary to maintain a high level.

According to Rihs, the velodrome would likely be used as a location for big competitions at an international and European level in the future.

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