Trinidad and Tobago’s Olympic cycling hopefuls have been provided with a slight competitive advantage ahead of the 2016 Summer Games since the spanking new 250 metre Siberian spruce track laid at National Cycling Velodrome, Couva, last week, is an almost replica of the sleek surface which will play host to cycling events at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

This was revealed by German Ralph Schuermann, architect and engineer of Schuermann Architects, and the man in charge of ensuring the successful laying of the surface at the Couva facility. Schuermann’s organisation has also been selected to construct the competitive track in Brazil for all indoor cycling events next year.

Speaking to the professional builder at the track’s unveiling in Balmain, Couva, yesterday, he indicated that TT nationals should have an extra edge.

“This is our 144th track we have built around the world,” said Schuermann. “In a few weeks time we are going to start to build the Olympic track and we are going to install this in Rio de Janeiro in autumn. It will be pretty similar to this track if you train here, you will definitely have an advantage at the Olympics.”

At the track’s unveiling yesterday, generations of local cyclists were all smiles as over 20 years of promises were finally materialised. Veteran national representatives such as Gene “Geronimo” Samuel, Roger Frontin and Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation (TTCF) president Robert Farrier, along with Olympic rider Njisane Phillip and several other promising national cyclists and enthusiasts were also present at the venue to test the smooth surface for the first time.

Schuermann also indicated that the seats are yet to be installed, air conditions still to be turned on and minor outdoor work to be done, to ensure total completion of now International Cycling Union (UCI) — sanctioned arena.

Schuermann added, “We have already received approval of the UCI for this building and we have the certification for the track. There’s still some minor work to do but the track is completed and as you can see, the cyclists are overjoyed.”

During the visit, national representatives such as Phillip, Keron Bramble, Akil Campbell, Quincy Alexander, Jude Codrington, Justin Roberts and females Kollyn St George, Keiana Lester and Denese Francis all took the opportunity to familiarise themselves on the shiny new track.

Speaking to Minister of Sport Brent Sancho at the venue, he gave credit to the works of the main contractor Shanghai Construction Group (SCG), the Government and all other associates for a job well done.

“History has been made in Trinidad and Tobago in the sport of cycling and history will continue to be made with the swimming and tennis facilities on the way as well — both have been coming along nicely.

“We have now put ourselves on the sporting world map and will now be known to have the best cycling arena in the Western Hemisphere. This is also great for sport tourism and we anticipate this location being a number one destination for foreign cyclists,” said Sancho.

TTCF boss, Farrier, also revealed that the cycling fraternity is presently working on a plan to ensure that this facility is fully utilised. These plans, he revealed, will be rolled out in due course since discussions are still underway with the newly appointed Sport Minister.

Although unconfirmed, the local cycling family is expected to host its first professional race in mid-May when TT’s elite and junior riders gear up for this year’s edition of the National Cycling Championships. However, the official opening is scheduled to take place when TT host the inaugural UCI-sanctioned “Grand Prix of Balmain”.

Originally, the scheduled date was listed as June 12-14 but due to minor delays, this date has been pushed back to ensure smooth operations on opening night. The official opening date is yet to be released.