OLYMPIC cycling stars of the future could be trained in York thanks to the city's new outdoor velodrome.

A new Olympic-sized outdoor velodrome at the University of York - the only one in Yorkshire and the North East of England -  is set to open to the public next month and hopes to capitalise on the current buzz around the arrival of the Tour de France on July 5.

The £1.1m facility, jointly funded by the university and British Cycling, features a 250 metre macadam track rising to a 30-degree gradient bank, and will be open to anyone aged eight and over as well as students from the university at the York Sport Village off Hull Road.

The venue will host regular taster and skills sessions, structured training and a weekly race league. There will also be opportunities for local schools and community groups to take part in cycling sessions, as well as weekly coaching sessions for under-16s run by Clifton Cycling Club.

Clifton club cyclists, Robert Gray, 16, from Blossom Street in York, Ben Wait, 15, from Hornsey and Ash Coning, 14, from Malton, were among those taking to the track today.

Ben said: "This is the first time we have had a chance to use it. We have had to go to Scunthorpe to train before this. It's great to have it here in York."

Schools from York and East Yorkshire including Archbishop Holgate's CE, St Wilfrid's RC Primary, the Minster School and Pocklington School have already tried out the facilities.

Gary Verity, Welcome to Yorkshire’s Chief Executive, said: “The Tour de France will be a catalyst for great things in our great county and for the legacy project of the Grand Départ, Cycle Yorkshire. The greatest cyclists in the world will, I am certain, inspire Yorkshire to get on its bike and this new facility will provide the perfect platform for more people of all ages, to engage with and enjoy cycling, one of the key aims of Cycle Yorkshire.”

Prof Koen Lamberts, Vice-Chancellor of the University of York, said: “In the year the Tour de France comes to York, we are very proud to provide a superb addition to the city’s sports facilities that will complement our floodlit 1.2km closed road cycle circuit.

"Our partnership with British Cycling to develop this additional facility is a clear demonstration of our commitment to ‘inspire activity’ and to promote the health and well-being of people across the city and beyond.”

Bob Howden, President of British Cycling, said: “Following the success of British riders at the Tour de France and Olympics, there are more people than ever riding bikes in this country. With increased participation, however, comes the need for new facilities. British Cycling has been delighted to get behind this fantastic project and hopefully we might see the next Joanna Rowsell or Jason Kenny develop at the York Velodrome. On a personal note, I and many other fellow Yorkshire volunteers will take particular delight in seeing a long haul for a home track facility finally come to fruition.”

The new facility opens to the public on July 13 and any club, school or sporting organisation wishing to find out how they can make use of the new cycling facilities at York Sport Village, University of York can contact Keith Morris or Andrew Johnston at York Sport on 01904 325751 or cycling@york-sport.com, or visit www.york-sport.com/cycling