Pro bicycle races slated for Neville Island

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Spectators at bicycle races on Neville Island will get a high-tech sports experience, the developer of the indoor track has pledged.

Cycling fans will get closer to the competitions with “leading edge techniques like on-board video cameras, live-streaming rider data, an easy-to-follow point system, season-long team competition and heart-pounding sound and lighting,” Robert Gottlieb said last week.

Island 200, the $15 million velodrome under construction on Grand Avenue, will be home to professional racing by teams from the new World Cycling League.

Mr. Gottlieb will serve as the league president. “I’m excited that Island 200 will serve as WCL’s production studio and initial league headquarters,” he said.

League commissioner John Vande Velde and CEO David Chauner both are former U.S. Olympic Team cyclists and U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame members. John Nelson is chief operating officer and Mark Bombara is chief technology officer.

The Island 200 velodrome is being built on a tract just east of the Interstate 79 bridge over Neville Island. The site adjoins Mr. Gottlieb’s aluminum recycling business.

Original plans called for opening the velodrome early this year, but Mr. Gottlieb said the process of obtaining permits for the indoor track has taken longer than he had anticipated.

Mr. Gottlieb has been involved in cycling since 1973 and has raced for more than 30 years. “I am astounded by the quality of the bicycling talent and the work ethic here in Western Pennsylvania,” he said. Local cycling champions include Matt Eaton, winner of the 1983 Tour of Britain “Milk Race,” and Daniel Chew, two-time winner [1996 and 1999] of the Race Across America.

The new velodrome will allow cyclists to build on past successes and give them a place to train year round, he said.

Initial events at the velodrome will include amateur racing this summer.

Speedtrak Cycling, a proprietary bike-racing format featuring squads of 11 men and women riders, will begin in October 2015. Organizers said the new format represents a speeded-up version of European six-day races modernized for American audiences.

World Cycling League competition will begin with a four-team conference based at Island 200. Teams will compete in two-part season featuring a dozen three-day meets.

The first half of season will feature team racing among the four “USA East” domestic teams. During the second half of the season USA all-stars will take on teams of international cyclists.

Each day’s competition will feature 12 races and last a total of 2½ hours. The indoor racing season will run between October and March.

The 11 professional players on each of the initial teams will be drafted in the first quarter of next year. Island 200 will be the site for a three-day pilot meet in March 2015. “That pilot event will let us work the kinks out and make sure all systems are in place for our full season in fall 2015,” Mr. Nelson said.

The three-day matches will most likely take place Thursday through Saturday, Mr. Nelson said. “We’re not going to conflict with people’s [professional] football affection,” he said.

The velodrome has been designed as a multi-purpose building. Its stage and motion-controlled lighting system will allow it to be used for concerts, trade shows and corporate celebrations, Mr. Gottlieb has said.


Len Barcousky: lbarcousky@post-gazette.com or 724-772-0184.

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