Cycling legend Hugh Porter backs velodrome bid ahead of 2022 Commonwealth Games
Cycling legend Hugh Porter MBE has backed a campaign to build a new velodrome in the West Midlands ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The region does not possess a single indoor banked race track and there are fears the competition's cycling events could be held 130 miles away in London.
It has prompted Halesowen & Rowley Regis MP James Morris to launch a cross-party campaign with support from 13 West Midlands MPs calling for a new venue.
Mr Porter, who won Commonwealth gold on the track in 1966, said: "I definitely support the campaign. I would like to see a velodrome built to host Commonwealth cycling.
"I am delighted Birmingham was awarded the Games but I think if we are going to promote the Games, we should be able to provide the facilities.
"I feel sad competitors won't be able to compete where we are."
Mr Porter, 78, who was born in Wolverhampton, is one of Britain's greatest professional cyclists. He also won four world titles in the individual pursuit and is a patron of Halesowen Cycling Club.
The cycling champion as also urged more people to sign up for this year's Banks's Round the Wrekin Sportive.
He said: "The number are up to 270 already which is still ahead of last year quite significantly.
"We would love to get 1,000 people signed up – that's the magic figure and if we could hit that I would be delighted.
"We held a spin class in Wombourne which was an opportunity for people that have already committed to ride the sportive.
"It was an opportunity for people to be able to train without and an opportunity for me to say a few words."
Fundraisers from across the region are set to come together for the sportive on May 20.
The annual event, at Dudley Kingswinford Rugby Club, raised £28,000 for Compton Hospice last year.
Riders can join one of three routes – either 100 miles, 64 miles or 24 miles.
Halesowen Cycling Club's outdoor track, the 70-year-old Manor Abbey based in Manor Way, has received praise from Mr Morris who called it a 'superb' facility which promotes grass-roots cycling.
But he said the region is in urgent need of a modern indoor track.
He has wrote a letter to the chief executive officer of British Cycling, Julie Harrington, outlining the concerns.
The letter has been backed by 13 West Midlands MPs including Dudley MPs Ian Austin and Mike Wood and Wolverhampton MP Emma Reynolds.
Mr Morris said the Games represents a 'massive opportunity' for the West Midlands to develop its sporting infrastructure.
"As the region's MPs we feel it would be a missed opportunity if cycling is simply to be sent to London, rather than fostering the talent we have in the West Midlands," said Mr Morris.
"In order to develop the sport across Great Britain, we need to ensure that the facilities are evenly spread out, and that, as is often the case, the concentration of resources in London will leave behind a whole generation of potential sporting heroes here in the West Midlands.”
He added that a refusal to build one would be a 'great blow' to cycle sport in the region.
To sign up for the Sportive or for more details call www.roundthewrekin.co.uk or visit the ‘sportifs’ page on British Cycling’s website.