London 2012: Bradley Wiggins called upon to help restore Herne Hill velodrome to former glory

 

Bradley Wiggins has been asked to race at the velodrome where he learned his sport in a bid to encourage fundraising for renovation.

The Tour de France hero is being invited to race again at Herne Hill velodrome and inspire a fundraising drive. Wiggins, 32, began his career aged 12 training at the venue, the only one from the 1948 London Games still in use.

But its future is uncertain, with millions of pounds needed to renovate crumbling facilities. Now fundraisers have approached cycling chiefs to land a high-profile appearance by Wiggins, who will today aim to become Britain’s single most decorated Olympian by winning his seventh medal in four Games.

A spokeswoman for Herne Hill Charitable Trust said: “We have spoken to British Cycling about having Bradley later in the year, but obviously he’s got a very busy schedule. Hopefully we’ll be able to work something out.

“Bradley is part of the history of Herne Hill, and if he can come it would be to reflect that — not just to have his picture taken. It would be an event he could possibly take part in.”

The 120-year-old venue is in disrepair — its crumbling pavilion has been condemned — and it has been subject to wrangles over leases.

The track was resurfaced last year and £400,000 will be spent on facilities including lighting and an inner track for junior racers. The charity is trying to raise between £2 million and £3 million to build a new stand.

Roger St Pierre, who raced at Herne Hill for more than two decades, said: “This is the golden age in British cycling. It would be great if we could have a three-way track meeting between Bradley, Mark Cavendish and Chris Hoy.

“Sales of bikes are going through the roof. What we don’t want to do is let something like Herne Hill go to waste.” Peter Cattermole, chairman of Velo Club de Londres, which manages the velodrome, said: “It’s a question of dealing with agents, but the likes of Bradley, Laura Trott and Chris Hoy would be very welcome — they inspire the kids, which is great.”

Wiggins’s preparations for the time trial have been upset by a thief who stole his GB kit. “The most famous Lycra in sport” vanished from the locker room at the Foxhills spa resort in Ottershaw, Surrey, where the GB team are based.

Wiggins, from Kilburn, tweeted: “Watch your kit at the Foxhills Spa in Surrey, there is a tea leaf about.”

Foxhills said it was investigating using CCTV.

The 44km time trial starts at 2.15pm at Hampton Court Palace. Wiggins already has six Olympic medals — three golds, one silver and two bronzes — and a podium place would put him above Sir Steve Redgrave as Britain’s most decorated Olympian. One of his main rivals will be compatriot Chris Froome.

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