Biggest cycling championships ever coming to Borders next year

A competition billed as the world’s biggest cycling event ever is coming to the Borders next year.

By Darin Hutson
Monday, 30th May 2022, 3:37 pm
Scottish riders Charlie Aldridge and Elena McGorum at Glentress Forest for today's announcement (Photo: Jeff Holmes)
Scottish riders Charlie Aldridge and Elena McGorum at Glentress Forest for today's announcement (Photo: Jeff Holmes)

Glentress Forest has been named as one of nine host venues so far for the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships taking place in Glasgow and across Scotland.

The Tweed Valley location will welcome many of the world’s best mountain bike riders as it hosts cross-country and cross-country marathon races.

It’s the first time an event of that scale has taken place at Glentress, owned by Foresty and Land Scotland.

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Gathered for Monday's announcement at Glentress Forest are Galashiels councillor, rider Elena McGorum, Forestry and Land Scotland regional manager John Dougan, mountain biker Charlie Aldridge and Trudy Lindblade, chief executive officer of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships (Photo: Jeff Holmes)

Next year’s event will be the biggest yet as they will bring together 13 different International Cycling Union world championships for the first time over 11 days from August 3.

More than a million spectators are expected to turn out for the championships nationwide, with about a billion expected to watch on television worldwide, making the championships one of the world’s top 10 sporting events of next year.

Riders will take on an off-road course featuring steep climbs and technical descents, and amateur cyclists will also be given the opportunity to join in a mass-participation event being run alongside the championships.

Peebles cyclist Elena McGorum, rated as one of the best up-and-coming cross-country mountain bikers in the UK, welcomed this week’s announcement that the championships are to be held in her home region, saying: “I’m really excited by the mountain bike cross-country and mountain bike cross-country marathon coming to Glentress Forest, so close to where I grew up, as part of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships.

“I have so many great memories of riding here, so to think there is an opportunity to compete in a world championships at Glentress is special.

“To have the three mountain bike world championships in Scotland, with the downhill also at Fort William, will be incredible and it will be fantastic to see mountain bike alongside all of the other cycling disciplines.

“It’s not something we ever get the chance to do, to compete alongside all the other cycling disciplines.”

Perth and Kinross rider Charlie Aldridge, 2019’s men’s junior UCI mountain bike cross-country world champion, is also among those hoping to compete in the Borders next summer and he said: “In mountain biking, the UCI World Championships are seen as the pinnacle of the sport, so I’m thrilled that the mountain bike cross-country and mountain bike cross-country marathon are both coming to Glentress Forest.

“Having the opportunity to compete in a world championships in front of a home crowd would be an incredible experience, and it would be a dream come true to pull on a rainbow jersey.

“Glentress Forest is known as being a brilliant destination for mountain biking, and I think riders and fans will be in for a real treat next year.”

Championships chief executive officer Trudy Lindblade said: “Glentress Forest is known around the world for the quality of its trails and its challenging terrain, so it is a fitting venue for both the mountain bike cross-country and mountain bike cross-country marathon as part of the first-ever combined UCI Cycling World Championships.

“We look forward to showcasing some spectacular world-class cycling in Glasgow and across Scotland, and I’m delighted that Glentress Forest has come on board as our latest venue.

“Our thanks go to our partners at Scottish Borders Council, Forestry Land Scotland and South of Scotland Enterprise for their commitment and support in ensuring this area can be part of the 2023 championships.”

Council leader Euan Jardine said: “I am incredibly proud that we have been able to bring these UCI World Championship events to the Borders.

“This will not only cement the reputation of the Tweed Valley as one of the world’s best mountain biking locations but also the Borders generally as Scotland’s leading cycling destination.

“Glentress has been a catalyst for change and growth over a number of years, bringing cyclists to the area, boosting tourism, investment and jobs and inspiring more people to ride.

“The communities of the Tweed Valley and their support and enthusiasm have also been vital in making this such a special and unique place for cycling.

“Both the short and long-term benefits of hosting the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championship will be significant for our local economy, and that is why we are so determined to bring more events of this magnitude to the area.”

John Dougan, regional manager for Forestry and Land Scotland, added: “Welcoming these two UCI World Championships events will be a terrific inauguration for the new updated Glentress layout that is currently in development.

“Our refreshed offer will include a new skills area, new trails and trail features, all being taken forward as part of our Glentress masterplan.

“These works will bring the venue and its 45 miles of mountain bike trails up to national and international race specifications.

“We’re really looking forward to the 2023 events and we’re sure they will be a huge success and mark the beginning of a new exciting chapter for Glentress, hopefully leading to it hosting many more top-flight events in the future.”

The 2023 championships will see more than 8,000 amateur and elite cyclists from 120-plus countries competing in Scotland for almost 200 world champion titles.

Besides the two being staged in the Borders, the other 11 of the 13 championships making up next year’s combined event are BMX freestyle flatland, BMX freestyle park, BMX racing, gran fondo, indoor cycling, mountain bike downhill, para-cycling road, para-cycling track, road, track and trials.

Five venues have been confirmed in Glasgow, with Dumfries and Galloway, Stirling and Fort William, as well as Glentress, also hosting events. Additional venues will be announced in due course.