Not from Newport? Get to know the Welsh velodrome hosting DerbyWheel

The Geraint Thomas National Velodrome of Wales has been chosen to host DerbyWheel’s test event in the first half of 2024.

The 250m wooden track, in the south Wales city of Newport was opened in November 2003. It was designed and built by the legendary Ron Webb – and was due to be his last track, until he was coaxed out of retirement to work on the Lee Valley velodrome for the London 2012 Olympics.

‘I think Newport is a super track,’ Webb told Cycling Weekly in 2010. ‘But Newport would probably never bring a world record. It’s very claustrophobic. When you’re going round the bend and leaning over, you don’t get that big feeling of freedom which you do in Manchester or London.’

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It was renamed in honour of Geraint Thomas in 2018, soon after the Team Sky rider became the first Welshman to win the Tour De France.

Thomas, who grew up in nearby Cardiff, had been a regular visitor to the building since its opening, including as the Olympic team’s holding camp prior to the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, at which Thomas won team pursuit gold.

Although it has a relatively modest seating capacity of just 500, it was chosen to host the British national track championships in 2022 and 2023, whilst the National Cycling Centre in Manchester was being refurbished.

It also hosted the British youth & junior and masters championships in 2023; and stepped in to host the Ukraine track nationals in 2022.

The arena sits within Newport’s International Sports Village, which includes Dragon Park, the Welsh national football development centre, as well as facilities for cricket, tennis, swimming and athletics. Just outside the velodrome is a cycle speedway track, home to one of Newport’s two clubs.

Newport VS East Newport Speedway Match – THE WELSH DERBY!

Despite attracting a Nato Summit and Ryder Cup golf in recent years, Newport has a less than stellar reputation as a place to live. But self-deprecating humour produced not one but two musical tributes based on Jay-Z’s Empire State Of Mind.

London-based filmmaker MJ Delaney, now best known as an Emmy-winning director on Ted Lasso, found viral success with a comic parody in 2010, later re-recorded by the BBC and a host of Welsh celebrities for its 2011 Comic Relief fundraiser.

Local comic hiphop legends Goldie Lookin Chain responded to this encroachment on their patch with a hastily produced version of their own, namechecking the Velodrome among other local – er – landmarks.