Cycling world championships have beamed Scotland’s beauty and hospitality across the globe - Angus Robertson
The world cycling championships in Scotland are a first – the first time ever that 13 world cycling championships across seven disciplines are taking place at the same time at the same place.
Over 7,000 elite athletes, including para athletes, are attending the 11 days of sporting action from more than 120 countries and competing for over 200 coveted rainbow jerseys awarded to world champions. Around 4,000 volunteers and a projected one million in-person spectators are making the championships a huge success.
The scenes at the men’s elite road race alone were impressive. From the start in Edinburgh to Fife, Clackmannanshire, Falkirk, Stirlingshire, East Dunbartonshire and on to Glasgow there were throngs of fans and locals interested in seeing the passing peloton.
In Glasgow the route was jam packed in much of the city centre. “My heart is swelling with pride to see how the people of this city have turned out and embraced this event,” wrote Bryan Burnett.
In a dramatic race finish the Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel won the men’s road race after a dramatic crash ahead of Belgium’s Wout van Aert who took silver and Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia who outsprinted Denmark’s Mads Pedersen for the bronze medal.
The drama of medal winners has been matched with the wonderful sporting gesture of the Vatican team near the back of the earlier Grand Fondo race. They slowed down to accompany Afghan refugee Masomah Ali Zada to the finish. What a kind sporting gesture!
For two years I have been involved with the preparations of the world cycling championships as the responsible Scottish Government minister. Great efforts have been made to work collectively with event partners and the cycling community to deliver tangible and lasting outcomes.
The sum of £8 million has been provided through the Cycling Facilities Fund to inspire and develop a nation of cyclists – from pump tracks to mountain bike tracks – leaving a lasting cycling infrastructure across the nation. The £1.4m Community Cycling Fund has supported 42 community-run events across Scotland to celebrate the power of the bike and provided funding for all 32 local authorities to achieve their cycling objectives.
In addition £3.9m of Transport Scotland projects are targeting people unable to access a bike or participate in cycling activities, investing in Scotland’s rail network to facilitate multimodal journeys and a new £1m fund for community organisations for cycle share schemes.
The UCI Cycling World Championships have already been a huge success and put Scotland on TV screens around the world. Hopefully they will increase participation, improve public health and wellbeing as well as encourage cycling as a mode of transport for everyday journeys.
The global media coverage should position Scotland as a leading cycling tourism destination. The world championships should grow the value of the cycling wellbeing economy to support jobs and industry. It can also support our Net Zero ambitions and transition to a low carbon economy.
Scotland should be extremely proud that the UCI World Cycling Championships have been such a success. International participants, visitors and media have been delighted by the hospitality and event management. It has been a great advertisement for Scotland.
Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary