By Bill Heaney
Some of you may have seen cycle races at the Loch Lomond Highland Games or the Highland Games in Luss, Helensburgh and the Rosneath Peninsula.
But you ain’t seen nothing yet. For the first time ever, the world’s best cyclists across a range of disciplines are being brought together for one “mega event” – and Scotland is hosting it with a major chunk of it taking place on local roads.
Beginning on Thursday, the UCI Cycling World Championships will see 11 days of action across the country – from mountain biking in the Tweed Valley to elite track cycling in Glasgow’s Sir Chris Hoy velodrome.
There will also be time trials around Stirling; a road race from Edinburgh to Glasgow; para-cycling road races in Dumfries; and a special Gran Fondo event in Perth and Dundee.
Eight of the 13 championships will take place in Glasgow and the city’s George Square will become the official fan zone, hosting the culmination of road races and their medal ceremonies.
What events are happening and where?
TRACK – There are a range of track events taking place at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow including the Sprint, Keirin, Team Pursuit, Points Race and the Madison. Track Para-cyclists will compete in many of the same events. The track and para-track events run from Thursday 3 to Wednesday 9 August.
ROAD RACES – The Men’s Elite Road Race on Sunday 6 August begins in Edinburgh and covers a 271km (168 mile) route which includes 10 laps of Glasgow city centre and the west end. The Women’s Elite Road Race the following Sunday (13 August) follows a 154km (96 mile) route from Loch Lomond to Glasgow via the Stirling countryside. It ends with six laps of Glasgow city centre. The Men’s and Women’s Junior road races will also take place in Glasgow on Saturday 5 August.
TIME TRIALS – Most of the time trials will take place on roads around Stirling from Wednesday 9 to Friday 11 August, with the Team Time Trial Mixed Relay in Glasgow city centre and the west end on Tuesday 8 August.
BMX – There are three BMX events taking place at Glasgow Green between Saturday 5 and Sunday 13 August. They are BMX Freestyle Park, BMX Freestyle Flatland and BMX Racing.
PARACYCLING – The road race will take place in Dumfries and Galloway on August 11 and 12. Also taking place in Dumfries is the Individual Time Trial for paracyclists on Wednesday 9 and Thursday 10 August.
GRAN FONDO – Italian for “big race”. It is a long distance mass-participation championship, which is open to both amateurs and professionals. The top 25% of riders from 27 qualifying events held around the world have been invited to compete in Scotland. It is a free to attend event which will travel through Perth and Kinross. A second event, The Gran Fondo Time Trial, will cover Dundee and Angus. The main event will take place on Friday 4 August beginning and ending in Perth with The Gran Fondo Time Trial on Monday 7 August.
MOUNTAIN BIKE DOWNHILL – The championships will take place in Fort William from Thursday 3 August to Saturday 5 August. The Nevis Range trail covers a distance of 2.8km with a drop of 550m.
MOUNTAIN BIKE CROSS-COUNTRY – Four Mountain Biking Cross-Country Championships, not including the Marathon, will take place at Glentress Forest in the Scottish Borders which features more than 80km of purpose-built trails. The mountain bike marathon ends at Glentress but involves a 100km ride over rough roads, gravel, climbs and descents.
INDOOR CYCLING – Two of the most unique events on offer during the Glasgow championships are Artistic Cycling and Cycle-Ball. Artistic Cycling is like gymnastics where riders perform handstands on handlebars and ride their saddles like surfboards. In Cycle-Ball riders must use their wheels to control, pass and strike the ball – no feet allowed. The Indoor Cycling events will take place at the Emirates Arena from Friday 11 August to Sunday 13 August.
TRIALS – Riders hop, hook and wheel jump their way up, down and over purpose-built obstacles designed to test the extremes of bicycle-based agility and technical skill. The event takes place at Glasgow Green from Wednesday 9 to Saturday 12 August.
The full schedule of events as well as advice on travel, accommodation and accessibility is available on the UCI Cycling World Championships website.
How can I watch the events?
Most events are ticketed but all the road races and time trials are free to attend. So too are the BMX Flatland Freestyle and Mountain Bike Cross-Country Marathon. The BBC will also have full coverage of the events on TV and online at the BBC Sport website.
Clare Balding will lead the BBC’s coverage, alongside Jill Douglas, JJ Chalmers and Sir Chris Hoy on BBC2, BBC3, and iPlayer.
Across the whole event, there will be 200 hours of live streams on iPlayer and the Red Button.
Will this affect roads or public transport?
Yes, especially for the road race events.
Glasgow will have the most road closures.
Closures on the city’s Road Race City Centre Circuit will be in place for four full days from Friday 4 August to Tuesday 8 August and then again on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 August. They cover most of the city centre as well as roads in the west of the city including Hillhead and Kelvingrove.
The Men’s Elite Road Race on Sunday 6 August will not just close Glasgow city centre but also roads along the route from Edinburgh on a rolling basis, most notably on the M9 at Junctions 1A (Newbridge) and 7 (Kinnaird House Interchange) to allow the race to pass over the Queensferry Crossing.
The following Sunday (13 August) the Women’s Elite Race will see similar restrictions in Glasgow as well as closures and movements on A82 to Balloch, West Dunbartonshire.
The Gran Fondo and Medio Fondo road races on Friday 4 August will see the closure of a key junction on the A9 as well as a full closure of the A85 between Perth and Methven.
And on Monday 7 August, the Gran Fondo Individual Time Trials will be taking place on the A92 in Dundee and Angus.
Roads around Stirling will be closed between Wednesday 9 and Friday 11 August for the Individual Time Trials causing disruption to villages such as Cambusbarron.
Paracycling road races will take place in Dumfries and Galloway between Wednesday 9 August and Saturday 12 August. Traffic is expected to be heavier than normal.
The Mountain Biking Cross Country events are taking place on Sunday 6 August and between Monday 8 and Saturday 12 August on the trails of Glentress Forest, just outside Peebles in the Scottish Borders. There will also be a small number of roads affected by the event.
Traffic Scotland have a dedicated page for the UCI Cycling World Championships and can offer support on journey planning.
Who is taking part?
Olympic champion Katie Archibald will lead the 64-strong Great Britain team on the track.
She is joined in the endurance squad by fellow Scot Neah Evans.
In the sprints, Paisley-born Olympic silver medallist Jack Carlin will be a challenger.
Britain’s para-track squad includes home hero Neil Fachie, Jody Cundy, Kadeena Cox and Lora Fachie.
Lizzie Deignan, Geraint Thomas and Sarah Storey have been included in the British squad for the Road World Championships.
Mark Cavendish also made the long list despite breaking his collarbone in a fall in the Tour de France.
National road race champion Fred Wright and Olympic mountain bike cross-country champion Tom Pidcock join 2018 Tour champion Thomas in the men’s team.
Deignan, who was the women’s world champion in 2015 and is returning after giving birth to her second child last September, heads a women’s squad that includes last year’s world under-23 road race silver medallist Pfeiffer Georgi.
The skirl of the pipes will welcome cyclists to Loch Lomondside. Beginning on Thursday, the UCI Cycling World Championships will see 11 days of action across the country – from mountain biking and other events to elite track cycling in Glasgow’s Sir Chris Hoy velodrome.