British Olympic squad back to training on the track after lockdown lay-off

As the UK starts to ease lockdown, the GB team are looking to Tokyo

The British Olympic team have returned to the track after they were forced to take a break due to coronavirus.

After the UK went into lockdown in March, training facilities including the National Cycling Centre in Manchester were forced to close while outdoor exercise was restricted.

But as the UK government starts to ease the lockdown regulations, on Tuesday (May 26) Britain’s track stars have returned to the boards at their HQ in Manchester to prepare for the delayed Olympics.

British Cycling performance director Stephen Park said: “As with everything we do, our performance planning for return to training was focused on the welfare of our riders and staff and we worked incredibly hard to ensure we were excellently prepared for a safe return.

“At this early stage of return, we are only supporting access to riders who are on a Tokyo trajectory and the facility is only used for training which cannot be completed from home.”

The Tokyo Olympics were scheduled to be held this summer, but due to the global pandemic the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government were forced to postponed the games by a year, until August 2021.

While there has been some speculation the games may still need to be cancelled, the Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said he is confident the event will go ahead.

With 421 days until the Olympics start, the 12 riders from Great Britain Cycling Team re-entered the National Cycling Centre velodrome this week, including sprint star Jason Kenny.

British Cycling says it carried out extensive risk assessments, with all staff and riders having pre-screening health checks before entering the building, one-way systems being put in place, with riders spread out around the track.

A medical officer and Covid-19 officer will also be on-site at all times to oversee the training.

The return to the track was voluntary for both riders and staff, with everyone being given the choice to opt out if they felt unsafe.

Meanwhile, British Cycling has extended its suspension of cycling events on a rolling basis, with national level events being off the table until September 1, while regional events could return from August 1.

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Park added: “The date for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games may have changed, but our ambitions for success have not, and I’m really proud of the project team who are working diligently on our return to training plain to support the riders’ progressive transition back to full time training, when the time is right.”

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.