UCI Cycling World Championships in Scotland:

An Epoch-Making Confluence of Cycling Elite

Cyclist during the competition at the UCI Cycling World Championships

The inaugural 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, a confluence of 13 UCI World Championships, unfolded over 11 exciting days in Glasgow and various regions around Scotland. Bringing together the various cycling disciplines together in one place, essentially creating an “Olympics for cycling”, with the next scheduled in 2027, preceding the actual Olympic Games by a year. This historic event witnessed a gathering of elite cycling talent from across the globe, firmly cementing its significance in the annals of two-wheeled sports.

Record-Breaking Spectatorship

Approximately 1 million spectators, embodying the event's international appeal and unequivocal success, converged to witness the grand finale—the Women's Elite Road Race. A 154.1km race from Balloch to Glasgow, provided an electrifying climax to the whole event. Lotte Kopecky of Belgium emerged as the victor, claiming the prestigious Rainbow jersey and captivating the audiences in attendance.

Lasting Legacy and Future Impact

Beyond the immediate triumphs, the event sought to establish a lasting legacy and ignite a passion for cycling among enthusiasts. By looking at the viewing and attendance figures, we can see this plan came to fruition. Ernst & Young conducted a comprehensive assessment of the social and economic impact, further shedding light on the event's profound and positive contribution to Scotland.

Acclaim and Vision

UCI President David Lappartient lauded the championships, deeming them a pinnacle in cycling's history that unified diverse disciplines and nations on an unparalleled scale. Key figures, including Paul Bush OBE, Culture Secretary Angus Robertson, Leader of Glasgow City Council Susan Aitken, Esther Britten from UK Sport, and British Cycling CEO Jon Dutton, commended the event's success and its role in elevating Scotland's status as a major event destination.

Likewise, another crucial factor aiding this success is the approximately 4000 volunteers providing support in key roles across every venue, helping ensure the best possible experience for those in attendance, from the spectators to the professionals taking part.

Celebrating Triumph and Excellence

Across diverse disciplines, an impressive tally of 653 medals and 220 UCI Rainbow jerseys were awarded, signifying the epitome of achievement for the competing cyclists. Athletes from over 130 countries showcased their prowess, exemplifying the event's international appeal and competitive spirit. Amongst the competing nations, Great Britain emerged as the dominant force, securing 56 cycling medals and an additional 44 in para-cycling, reaffirming their prowess on the global stage.

Delivering on the Excitement and Thrills

Over the 11 days of competition, we saw trials and tribulations, ups and downs, triumphs and disappointments. With excited spectators and highly motivated global competitors, the event left all those in attendance hungry for more, and the victors thinking about the next challenges waiting to be overcome. Here’s an overview of how those days unfolded over the course of the event:


Day 1: Unprecedented Beginnings and Historical Integration

The inaugural day marked a historical milestone, epitomizing integration and inclusivity in the world of cycling. Competitors witnessed a significant stride as para-track athletes stood shoulder to shoulder with their able-bodied track counterparts, competing side by side for the first time. The merging of disciplines showcased a spirit of unity and opened new horizons for the sport.

Japan’s Keiko Sugiura claimed the first Rainbow jersey at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome during the women’s C3 individual pursuit, setting the standard for a series of groundbreaking victories throughout the championships.

Day 2: Great Britain's Roaring Start

Day two roared to life with Great Britain's para-cyclists dominating the track events, setting an early precedent for their remarkable performance in the championships. Scotsman Neil Fachie, alongside his pilot Matthew Rotherham, set the tone by clinching the first of many world titles in the men’s B 1km time trial at the velodrome. There was plenty more success on the boards, showcasing the UK team's strength and determination to make their mark on this global stage.

Meanwhile, at Fort William, the junior downhill mountain biking events saw Germany’s Henri Kiefer and New Zealand’s Erice van Leuven taking the honours at the Nevis Range, thrilling the crowds with their daring downhill run.

Day 3: Conquering Gravity and City Streets

Gravity became a conquerable force on day three, witnessed by thrilling downhill mountain biking at Nevis Range. The fearless riders defied gravity, hurtling down treacherous descents with audacity and skill. Simultaneously, Glasgow’s roads came alive, hosting road races that allowed enthusiasts to witness city cycling at its finest, setting the stage for the grand events that followed.

Furthermore, there was elation for hometown hero Katie Archibald and her women’s pursuit team as they flew to victory on the velodrome track, taking gold over New Zealand with a truly dominant display.

Day 4: The Ultimate Test of Endurance and Skill

Day four brought forth a medley of challenges, embodying the essence of cycling's diverse disciplines. From the gruelling elite peloton races to acrobatic BMX freestyle park finals, the day showcased the sport's versatility. Notably, the men’s elite peloton raced from Edinburgh to Glasgow, where Mathieu van der Poel emerged victorious after a dramatic race that saw a head-to-head battle up the leg-breaking Montrose Street climb.

Day 5: Freestyle Feats and Triumph Over Adversity

The fifth day unfolded with displays of freestyle BMX at its finest. Athletes exhibited astonishing feats of agility, balance, and creativity, leaving spectators in awe. Amidst the adrenaline-fueled action, instances of grit and determination shone through. Ethan Vernon showcased exceptional resilience by reclaiming victory for Great Britain in the men’s elimination race, following a dramatic spill in the velodrome.

Day 6: A Confluence of Skill and Team Spirit

Day six emphasized teamwork and collaboration, both on the road and the track, featuring relay events. The mixed team time trial on the road pitted top teams against each other, demonstrating their clockwork precision and synchronized effort. Meanwhile, on the track, the mixed C team sprint and mixed B team relay showcased lightning-fast exchanges and split-second decisions. The women’s points race and the men’s madison added to the day's exciting track events, with Lotte Kopecky celebrating victory in the former.

Day 7: Trials and BMX Showcase Precision and Agility

Day seven saw the inclusion of Trials, an event requiring precise bike control and exceptional balance. The mixed team event captivated spectators, with Spain securing the first Trials gold. Meanwhile, BMX flatland qualification rounds at Glasgow Green exhibited dazzling displays of balance, agility, and coordination, setting the stage for the finals. Oliver Weightman of Great Britain triumphed in the men’s junior 20” Trials, showcasing his talent under pressure.

Day 8: Fast and Furious: Short Track and BMX Racing

Day eight offered up adrenaline-pumping action in short-track mountain biking at Glentress Forest. The short track events were a battleground for speed and strategy, where Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Sam Gaze emerged as the fastest and most furious, ultimately claiming the Rainbow jerseys. Additionally, the BMX racing qualifying rounds across different age categories at Glasgow’s purpose-built BMX Centre set the stage for the intense and breathless finals, where riders exhibited their speed, race strategy, and handling skills. Romain Mahieu emerged as the victor in the men’s elite BMX racing.

Day 9: Culmination of Para-Cycling and Indoor Cycling Events

Day nine witnessed the culmination of para-cycling road races, in a fantastic display of determination and skill. The mixed H team relay event in para-cycling brought a thrilling conclusion. Simultaneously, the indoor cycling events at the Emirates Arena added a unique flair, showcasing artistic cycling and cycleball. Germany's dominance in the artistic cycling event further highlighted its expertise and finesse in this specialised discipline.

Likewise, in the para-cycling time trials at Dumfries & Galloway, 14 Rainbow jerseys were awarded, highlighting the outstanding performances of para-cyclists in a number of different categories.

Day 10: Mountain Biking and Road Races Reach Climactic Heights

Day ten drew record crowds to the slopes of Glentress Forest for the mountain bike cross-country Olympic finals. The challenging course pushed riders to their limits, with Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Tom Pidcock emerging as the champions. The men’s under-23 road race in Glasgow saw France’s Axel Laurence take the gold amidst frenetic action, displaying the riders' resilience amidst crashes and mechanical issues. The road races in Dumfries & Galloway provided more gold-winning opportunities for Great Britain, further adding to their successful tally. Notably, Tom Pidcock exhibited exceptional climbing ability and determination to clinch victory in the men’s mountain bike cross-country Olympic race.

Day 11: A Fitting Finale and Farewell

As you might have expected, the final day was marked by the grand finale - culminating in the Women’s Elite Road Race. Spectators thronged the route between Balloch and Glasgow, witnessing a riveting 154.1km race. The aforementioned Lotte Kopecky triumphed in the race, clinching the coveted Rainbow jersey, providing a fitting conclusion to the inaugural 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships. The Belgian native, after two wins on the track and a bronze in the omnium, emerged as the most decorated rider of the championships, showcasing her extraordinary skill and endurance across diverse cycling events.


Wrapping Up and Looking Forward to the 2027 UCI Cycling World Championships

And so the inaugural 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships came to a close. The event had been hailed as a resounding success, and the people of Scotland, from the spectators to the volunteers and everyone in between, can all be proud to have been part of this cycling spectacle. As the event drew to a close, those hungry for more will now have to wait until the next iteration in 2027, which will be taking place in Haute-Savoie in France. However, with multiple events planned between now and then, there will be no shortage of action on two wheels to keep us all entertained. Having inspired new fans of the sport and created new experiences for thousands of spectators at home and abroad, the UCI Cycling World Championships have shown that the future of cycling, in all its forms, is a bright and exciting one.