By Brecht Decaluwé in Compiègne, France
The vélodrome in Roubaix is a holy shrine for the cycling faithful, but the site of the finishing line of Paris-Roubaix is in serious need of an update. While Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix have lovingly tended to the cobbled sectors, the vélodrome has become decrepit. New life is planned to come to the site, as the Nord - Pas de Calais region has decided to restyle the stadium completely, hoping to be done with the works by the end of 2011.
A new indoor cycling track will be built adjacent to the existing outdoor track. The designs for the new building were made public in October, 2008. The French region Nord – Pas de Calais is set to invest 15.6 million euros to build the new vélodrome with an eye of having a state-of-the-art facility on which to hone its medal contenders for the Olympic Games.
The new track will seat 1,500 around a 250-meter oval. The modern structure will cover 11000 square metres, including services for media, seminars and meetings. Construction should be finished by the end of 2011, but it is still unknown whether the cyclo-cross World Cup during that winter or Paris-Roubaix 2012 will welcome the new infrastructure for the first time.
Jean-François Pescheux, one of the directors of the ASO (organizer of events like the Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix) ensured Cyclingnews that not much is going to change for the finish of Paris-Roubaix and that not all necessary decisions have been made yet.
The new buildings will be situated on the current location of the press centre which is right next to the legendary old-fashioned showers, where each stall bears the name of a past winner. As for now it is unclear whether those showers will be saved or not, although it seems unlikely that one would want to get rid of Roubaix's cycling heritage.