Competing as part of the Great Britain Cycling Team, no fewer than 35 Scottish riders were in action across the full range of cycling disciplines, winning an impressive 21 medals and 11 world titles. But the impact derived from the World Championships was far more than just medals, as the whole nation was inspired to get on their bikes thanks to new facilities, inspirational grassroots programmes aimed at children and families, and a free bikes initiative all coming to fruition.
Taking place in Glasgow and across Scotland in August, the inaugural UCI Cycling World Championships saw the nation and cycling fans worldwide embracing the 13 different cycling disciplines, some 7,000 elite riders putting on a show that has never been seen before. From the Track and Road events taking place in Glasgow, to Downhill Mountain Biking in Fort William and the Para-Road Races in Dumfries & Galloway, the whole of Scotland was able to connect with this mega event – the first time the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, has brought the majority of its World Championships together in one location.
Joining the First Minister at his official residence at Bute House in Edinburgh for the celebratory event were the Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Angus Robertson, and the Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport Maree Todd, demonstrating the extraordinary impact of this landmark event coming to Scotland.
For Scottish Cycling, it was a chance to elevate the sport of cycling and inspire new audiences to ride their bikes. Appointed as Official Legacy and Activation Partner of the World Championships, the governing body set about trying to make a difference that would continue to be felt once the event had finished.
The most tangible of these benefits has been delivered through the Cycling Facilities Fund, delivered in conjunction with sportscotland, that is delivering £8 million of investment into purpose built cycling facilities right across Scotland, from mountain bike trails on Arran, to pump tracks in the borders and a disability hub in Aberdeenshire.
The key activation programme aligned to the championships was a grassroots initiative called Ride The Worlds, that provided experiences for young riders and their families before, during and after the event. In total there were over 100 activations, from regional opportunities to try one or more cycling discipline, to pop up demos at venues during the World Championships, with spectators able to ride pump tracks, trials courses or take on a sprint challenge on a static bike.
For young racers though, there was the chance of a lifetime, as they had the opportunity to qualify to race during the World Championships, the winners standing atop the very same podiums as their idols. It was these young riders who got yet another chance of a lifetime this week, as they attended the celebratory event alongside some of Scotland’s medal winning stars in Jenny Holl, Fin Graham and Charlie Aldridge.
Upon meeting some of these riders, the First Minister, Humza Yousaf, said:
“It was great to be able to celebrate with Scottish Cycling after what has been a hugely successful year for the sport in Scotland.
“The Cycling World Championships was an unforgettable event and its legacy will inspire people across Scotland to cycle more or start cycling.
“Scottish Cycling played a key role in the success of the Championships, through their work as the event’s Official Legacy and Activation Partner and their support of Scottish athletes, including young athletes at the start of their cycling journey.
“I am sure that their work will deliver long-term benefits for cyclists and communities across the country.”
Scottish Cycling Chief Executive, Nick Rennie, added:
“We were delighted to accept the First Ministers invitation to celebrate not only our role in the first ever combined World Championships, but also to highlight the Power of the Bike in making Scotland cleaner, healthier, fairer and wealthier.
“Through our activations around the World Championships almost 5,000 people took part in activities across the country, inspired by this first ever combined World Championships. To have some of those who have been inspired – our Race The Worlds winners – and some of our World Champions join us made it an extra special occasion for all involved.”
Amongst other initiatives were a new website, scottishcycling.org.uk, aimed at providing a one-stop-shop for people to find their nearest cycling opportunity, right through to ‘Rock Up & Ride’, a scheme that puts children and communities, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford one, onto bikes, and gives them the skills a confidence to make cycling a sport for life.