The Great Britain Cycling Team will have its own cycling wind tunnel in Manchester, courtesy of a million-pound gift from Halfords to support British Cycling’s athletes and cycling at all levels across Great Britain.
The wind tunnel, conceived by Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman MBE, is one of the most advanced in the world and will be re-located to the Manchester Institute of Health and Performance on the Etihad Campus in East Manchester, adjacent to the HSBC UK National Cycling Centre.
The new facility, which is set to be operational by the end of 2021, will provide crucial support for British athletes preparing for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, the first ever combined UCI Cycling World Championships which will be held in Scotland in 2023 and the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games. The wider cycling community, cycling-related education programmes and equipment development and research teams can access the tunnel to support British cycling at all levels.
The tunnel is specifically designed to meet cyclists’ and triathletes’ requirements and has been part of the Boardman Performance Centre, a collaboration between Halfords and the Olympian.
A world-first data capture system feeds video imagery and information back to the rider in real-time. Aerodynamicists can continually tune wind speed and direction to mimic the conditions of any event or environment.
Anonymised data accrued at the Boardman Performance Centre over the past two years will also be handed over to British Cycling to support their athletes. Halfords will continue to be associated with the facility, utilising it for product research and development and customer events.
As part of relocation plans, the tunnel is being upgraded to keep it at the leading edge of cycling aerodynamic understanding.
Graham Stapleton, CEO of Halfords, said: “We’re delighted to have found a new home for this facility. We’re also pleased that the wind tunnel will continue to be made available to the public as well as providing the Great Britain Cycling Team with an invaluable world-class resource.”
Stephen Park OBE, British Cycling Performance Director, said: “The primary focus of the Great Britain Cycling Team is to support talented riders to achieve their best and continue to deliver world-leading performances.
“Having this facility in Manchester, the home of British Cycling, means that, thanks to Halfords, we will be able to continue to develop our understanding of bicycle aerodynamics, the related performance impact and therefore provide an even better service to riders who represent this country with pride. It will be a fantastic addition to the elite training facilities available to British riders while providing even better value for the investment we receive from the National Lottery via UK Sport.”
Charles Johnston, Sport England Property Director, commented: “This wind tunnel facility is an exciting opportunity for both athletes and amateur cyclists looking to perfect their performance skills. Bringing this innovative and technologically advanced facility online is a triumph of the collaborative work between British Cycling, UK Sport, English Institute of Sport and Sport England, and we are proud to have supported this project via our Elite Training Centre investment programme.”
Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods at Manchester City Council, said: “East Manchester and the Etihad Campus continues to advance as a world-leading sporting centre of excellence, with the new wind-tunnel facility at the Manchester Institute of Health and Performance a significant boost to the sports, research and science offer.
“The Manchester Institute of Health and Performance brings together leaders from elite sports, grassroots community sport, and world-class healthcare to deliver cutting edge care and facilities for everyone from elite athletes to the community. We’re delighted that British Cycling athletes will be operating within the Manchester Institute of Health and Performance ecosystem, along with welcoming a full range of users to advance all levels of cycling across the nation.”