Cycling in Albany has returned to its former home for the first time in 40 years with a new criterium circuit in the Centennial Park sporting precinct being used for the first time on Tuesday.
The promenade and pathways in the eastern precinct have been tailored to facilitate the club’s racing return, with the Albany Cycle Club working closely with the City of Albany.
Surrounded by grass and limited traffic, the new circuit will provide juniors with a safe environment to introduce them to cycling whether that is for racing, riding for fun or commuting.
The club has exclusive use of the eastern precinct race circuit on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4pm to 8pm, and Sundays from 6am to 11am during the summer months.
The circuit will be closed to the general community to enable club racing at these times.
A sealed cycle track was opened at Centennial Park in November 1960 but cycling in the location began before World War II.
Albany Cycle Club president Tony Heslop said the return of cycling to Centennial Park had been 12 months in the making.
“This is one of two circuits like this in the State where it can exactly close down with no traffic, so fantastic for junior development,” he said.
“There was big races down here. We had contenders for the Tour de France coming to Albany for races, that’s how big cycling was down here in the day.
“It’s a growing sport again and gaining popularity.”
Heslop said the new circuit was a better alternative to criterium circuits at Middleton Beach and McKail the club had raced previously.
“Criterium circuits we have used before have always been on roads and so that means you have always got cars,” he said.
“We can’t fully close roads down. We can only close a lane down, so it takes a lot of effort to manage the traffic but you still have vehicles on the road where here you have none.
“For juniors … they don’t have to contend with traffic. It’s a pretty safe environment and a huge step forward from what we have had previously.”
Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington said it was pleasing to see cycling return to Centennial Park and hoped it inspired more of the community to take up cycling.
“The only other circuit of its kind in the State is at the Midland velodrome, and this track is a testament to the City’s commitment to encouraging sporting excellence and enjoyment.”