Sep 19, 2021 Sports
By Sean Devers
According to President of the Guyana Cycling Federation (GCF), former National Cyclist Linden Dowridge, developing a Velodrome is of utmost importance for the sport and would open up several avenues including sports Tourism.
Speaking on the last ‘Sean Devers Sports Watch’ on Kaiteur Radio, Dowridge, who will serve as GCF Head for a four-year term, said the GCF has submitted a proposal for the construction of a ‘Bank Track’ at the Durban Park behind the 1763 monument at Cuffy square.
A member of Team Evolution Cycle Club, Dowridge, who won unopposed at the last GCF AGM at Olympic House, Liliendaal in August 2019, expressed dissatisfaction with the standard of local cycling, adding that the GCF were off to a bad start due to the pandemic and events leading up to elections.
“We (GCF) have approached the Sports Minister with a drawing and proposal to construct a Velodrome at Durban Park. The drawing of a design for the 400 meters’ track was done by former cyclist, Vernon Davis.
Right where you have the stand now… it will take up the Eastern section of the paved road that is presently there. This facility, if we get it there, will cut the cost of building a track by at least 40 percent. In addition, it will be in central Georgetown where there is access to public transportation, walking distance from most homes and the basic infrastructure is already there with stands and washrooms and Floodlights facilities. If we were to attempt to put this anywhere else the cost would be doubled,” said Dowridge.
“Road cycling is not a spectator event, you have to be a lover of Cycling and you will just get to see the peloton pass. Most people stand at the finish line but then they just see a sprint but if we get the velodrome cycling will become a more spectator sport and more people and more ladies will get involved. We will be able to grow our sport a lot with this facility,” explained Dowridge who informed that there are nine Cycling clubs in Guyana.
Differently Able cyclist Walter Grant-Stuart who attended the Paralympics in Tokyo was the only Guyanese to the Paralympics and Dowridge said that it was almost impossible for Guyana’s riders to qualify for the biggest multi-sport event in the world.
“There is body called UCI, that’s the parent Body for Cycling and have now allowed professional Cyclists to race at the Olympics… persons who make a living from what they do.
Our Road Cyclists will have to attend UCI International Meets like the Tour-de-France and many other ‘stage events’ around the globe to compete with those guys and to get points is almost impossible but …if we have a Velodrome we could attend several Pan American Track Events which could get us the points to get to the Olympics” continued the GCF Boss.
He explained that he wants to focus on the track Events since he feels that is the easiest way to get to the Olympics. Dowridge disclosed if we are riding on grass and the International track standard is 333.33 and imagine if you have never been there and you are still riding on grass.
“All I am asking for is a beginner’s track which is big …400 meters… because we cannot entertain the thought of putting a 333 track since this will be too challenging for a youngster to just pick up a bike and get accustomed to it,” Dowridge added.
“A bank track will popularise and grow the Sport, it is going to grow the clubs since the parents of the young riders will come out and ultimately grow the Federation. A track will provide us the opportunity to invite International riders which could be good for sporting tourism in Guyana.
They would be accompanied by their teams, families who would have to be accommodated at Hotels, buy meals and most likely use public transpiration,” Dowridge posited.
A Velodrome, where a large crowd is present for the entire race would encourage more sponsorship from Corporate Guyana which would attract more participation and even filter down to road races.
We have a field of about 35-40 Road competitions but If we get a track, the guys who starts riding on the track would come and ride on the Road. Presently most of the Road cyclists know each other, their strengths and weakness so when we get fresh competitors we will start getting new winners” the GCF President noted.
“Another advantage of having a track would be organising a three stage Road race, a week after the International Event and the international Riders would stay for the Road race. They would make use of local tour packages and this would be a grand moment for Guyana… not only for the sport but for economic activity and sports tourism.”
Dowridge revealed the GCF’s relationship with Sports Minister Charles Ramson, the Director of Sport Steve Ninvalle and Chairman of NSC Kashif Mohammed is fairly good and that he is
getting cooperation from the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport.
According to Dowridge, pending the approval of the Task Force, several events have been planned for the last quarter of the year. Starting from this weekend with the Flying Stars Victor Macedo Memorial 75-mile race which goes into the Linden Highway, Hassan Mohammed’s Diamond Mineral Water in West Demerara, the Wilbert Benjamin Memorial in Berbice, the Flying Stars Kadir Mohamed Memorial 80-mile ‘Ounce of Gold’ race, the Evolution ‘Ounce of Gold race in Essequibo, the Heavy Machinery Event ending at Parika and the Throson Club’s race in New Amsterdam.
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