13 August 2023

The Champs in review: history in the making

The complete look back on the the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow and across Scotland


We’ve sped, balanced, flipped and raced our way through the past 11 days and as the final pedal strokes are ridden, the last rainbow jerseys pulled on the and the remaining medal hung around the necks of the deserving riders, it’s time to look back and reflect on what has been a magnificent inaugural Cycling World Championships here in Glasgow and in venues around Scotland.

History has quite literally been made, as the first Championships of its kind has brought together competitors from over 130 nations across 13 different UCI World Championships, and we’ve seen 220 beautiful rainbow jersey events with 653 medals awarded (and coos, don’t forget about the coos).

The celebrations began on George Square with the opening ceremony, as local artists and performers entertained the crowds as the Champs got underway, with Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall the star attraction as the anticipation reached fever pitch ahead of the first day of competition.

Day 1

Day one saw the first rainbow jersey awarded over the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome, with Japan’s Keiko Sugiura the recipient as the women’s C3 individual pursuit set the standard in another historical first, as track and para-track athlete competed side by side for the first time.

And there was joy for Great Britain as they claimed their first world title courtesy of Jenny Holl and Sophie Unwin in the women’s B 1km time trial. It would foreshadow 11 days of sparkling success for the home nation.

Day 2

Day two kicked off in much the same way day one concluded – with joy on the track for Great Britain’s para-cyclists, as Scotsman Neil Fachie and his pilot Matthew Rotherham took the first of a number of world titles in the men’s B 1km time trial. There was plenty more success on the boards of the velodrome for both the home nation and

Meanwhile in Fort William, the first off-road rainbows of the Champs were awarded as the junior downhill mountain biking events, with Germany’s Henri Kiefer and New Zealand’s Erice van Leuven taking the honours at the Nevis Range, where the most daring riders of the championships laugh in the face of gravity and throw themselves down the hair-raising twists and turns of the downhill run with reckless abandon.

It was a day for mass participation to on the roads of Perthshire, as over 2,000 amateurs competed in the Gran and Medio Fondo races, with special prizes awarded in a range of age categories right the way up to 80-85.

Day 3

Gravity was once more grappled with – and bested – on day three of the Champs, as the Nevis Range hosted the elite downhill finals. There was unexpected joy for Great Britain as Charlie Hatton used the wet conditions to his advantage, slipping and sliding his way expertly into a rainbow jersey, with  teammate Laurie Greenland joining him on the podium in third place. Valentia Höll made it back-to-back World Championship titles in the women’s event.

The roads of Glasgow experienced the first action of the Champs as France’s Julie Bego and Denmark’s Albert Philipsen stormed to victory in the junior road races, and the crowds had their first taste of the intricate, challenging city circuit that would host the big guns at the weekend.

Back in the velodrome, there was elation for hometown hero Katie Archibald and her women’s pursuit team, as they flew to victory on the track, taking gold over New Zealand with a truly dominant display. Sam Ruddock and Blaine Hunt also delighted the home crowds, winning gold in the C1 and C5 1km time trials respectively.

Day 4

On day four, all eyes were on the road, as the men’s elite peloton raced from Edinburgh to Glasgow to determine who would win the honour of wearing the rainbow bands for the following year. Despite early disruption following a protest, all hell broke loose when they race reached the Glasgow city circuit and what unfolded was a race for the ages, as the hitters of the men’s World Tour went head-to-head up the leg-breaking Montrose Street climb ten times, with Mathieu van der Poel able to raise his arms in victory despite a dramatic crash in the final 5km of the race.

Elsewhere there was a change of pace at Glasgow Green as speed was exchanged for skill and bravado, as the BMX freestyle park finalists were decided, and Glentress Forest opened its trails to the mountain bike marathon, in which Henrique Avancini of Brazil and Mona Mitterwallner of Austria showed their endurance and determination to take the honours.

And it was another day of action at the track, with an explosive men’s individual pursuit final resulting in the most dramatic of last-gasp victories for Filippo Ganna of Italy over Great Britain’s Dan Bigham, while Belgium’s multi-discipline star Lotte Kopecky took the win in the women’s elimination race – it would not be her only rainbow jersey.

Day 5

Onto day five, where the BMX freestyle park finals produced some mind-boggling displays of athletic prowess, and utter jubilation for Great Britain’s Kieran Reilly who put together a flawless run to take gold, while in the women’s event the USA’s Hannah Roberts won back-to-back titles with her epic performance.

Ethan Vernon got back on his bike following a dramatic spill in the velodrome to claim gold for Great Britain in the men’s elimination race, a brilliant consolation prize following disappointment for the men’s pursuit team on day one. Elinor Barker and Neah Evans followed suit, also having to remount after a crash, but able to stay strong to take gold in the women’s madison.

And the Gran Fondo riders had their second chance to compete for glory in the individual time trial, with the city of Dundee another new location to be showcased in a truly Scottish championships.

Day 6

Day six was all about communication and team spirit, both on the road and the track, as it was relay day. The mixed team time trial on the road pitted a number of top teams against one another, and the clock, and who knows clocks better than the Swiss? Despite a crash for Marlen Reusser – one of the many spills on the damp city circuit – the team took their second World title in a row at the event ahead of the French in second and Germany in third.

On the track the mixed C team sprint saw Great Britain narrowly defeated by a lightning fast Chinese team, though the British tandem relay team edged out Italy to take gold in the mixed B team relay. There was another rainbow celebration for Lotte Kopecky as she won the women’s points race, and the Netherlands held their nerve to take a surprise gold in the men’s madison.

Day 7

Two more disciplines joined the fray on day seven, as the mixed team event at the Trials saw favourites Spain take away the first Trials gold, while crowds watching for free at the BMX flatland qualification rounds at Glasgow Green were treated to dazzling displays of balance, agility and coordination.

There was more relay action, this time off-road at Glentress, as the mountain bike mixed relay event saw a win for the indomitable Swiss team, who also claimed the jerseys in the men’s and women’s E-Mountain bike Cross Country races.

On the road, it was rider v time, as Lorenzo Milesi took the honours in the men’s U23 individual time trial. Meanwhile over in Dumfries & Galloway, the first events of the para-cycling road programme sent 14 rainbow jerseys winging their way onto the shoulders of the competitors in the individual time trial events for the handcycle and tricycle categories.

And it was the finale of an incredible week of track action over at the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome, as after seven days of high octane drama the final track and para-track titles were decided on the boards. Kevin Quintero claimed a dramatic victory in the men’s keirin, Aaron Gate of New Zealand showed his experience to win the men’s points race, and the women’s omnium title went to the USA’s Jennifer Valente for a consistently strong performance over the four rounds of competition.

Day 8

Day eight, and over at Glentress Forest the fast and the furious won the day in the mountain bike short track events, with Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (France) and Sam Gaze (New Zealand) the fastest and mot furious of them all, claiming rainbows while Great Britain’s Evie Richards and Tom Pidcock both claimed bronze.

The competitors in the BMX flatland finals wowed the crowds and impressed the judges, with the most impressive France’s Aude Cassagne for the women and Japan’s Yu Shoji for the men.

On the roads up in Stirling, the women’s junior and elite individual time trials crowned the fastest riders against the clock, with Australia’s Felicity Wilson-Haffenden taking the junior title and Chloe Dygert the elite. Antonia Niedermayer of Germany was the fastest U23 rider. Back down in Dumfries & Galloway, 12 more rainbow jerseys were awarded in the para-cycling time trials.

Day 9

There was one final discipline to throw into the mix on day nine, as the Emirates Arena hosted the opening rounds of the Indoor cycling events, including the gymnastics-on-wheels of the artistic cycling and the football-meets cycling mash-up of cycleball.

It was the turn of the men to race against the clock in Stirling, with last year’s road champion Remco Evenepoel exchanging road rainbows for time trial rainbows as he beat Filippo Ganna to take the win, with an astonishing ride from 19-year-old Josh Tarling of Great Britain in third. Oscar Chamberlain made it two wins for Australia in the junior men’s event.

14 rainbow jerseys were decided in Dumfries & Galloway in the handcycle and tricycle categories, and it was the turn of the under-23 riders to take on the trails of Glentress, and there was joy for Great Britain as Scottish rider Charlie Aldridge took gold for the men, while in the women’s event it was New Zealand’s Samara Maxwell who came out on top.

Day 10

The mountain bike cross country Olympic finals drew bumper crowds to the slopes of Glentress Forest on day ten, where Pauline Ferrand-Prévot made it two wins in two races for France, and Tom Pidcock used his superior climbing ability along with bags of grit and determination to win solo in the men’s race.

The men’s under-23 road race saw carnage on the streets of Glasgow as there were countless crashes and mechanical issues, and it was France’s Axel Laurance, part of the day’s early breakaway, who was able to steer clear of the drama and power to victory ahead of the rest.

It was a day of golden opportunity for Great Britain on the roads of Dumfries & Galloway, as Will Bjergfelt (men’s C5), Fin Graham (men’s C3), Frances Brown (women’s C1) and Dame Sarah Storey (women’s C5) taking gold. It was a particularly special victory for Brown - her fifth across road and track, which when combined with her silver in the 500m time trial made her the most decorated para-cyclist of the championships.

BMX racing took centre stage for the first time with the qualifying rounds across the juniors, under-23s and elite age categories, with speed, race strategy and bike handling paving the way to the finals in this fast and furious event at Glasgow’s purpose-built BMX Centre.

And in the Trials, Great Britain’s Oliver Weightman (men’s junior 20”) and Jack Carthy (men’s elite 26”) took victories for the home nation, demonstrating incredible skill and focus under pressure, while in the artistic cycling Germany continued to impress in the event they have dominated for many years, taking the titles in the men’s elite singles and open pairs events.

Day 11

And so to the final day of action, as the last of the coveted rainbow jerseys were up for grabs on day 11. France took glory in the final para-cycling road race, the mixed H team relay whilst the indoor cycling saw Germany sweep the board, with winners in both the cycleball finals and the artistic cycling, and the BMX racing finals were intense and breathless stuff throughout, with all  World Champions decided including a top 3 for France in the men’s elite, with Romain Mahieu the victor, and a final reason for home crowds to celebrate as reigning champion Bethany Shriever made it two consecutive wins in the women’s elite event.

And curtain came down in George Square as the streets of Glasgow lit up with the fireworks of the women’s elite road race, which was won by one of the stars of the championships, Belgium’s Lotte Kopecky, who picked up her third rainbow jersey after claiming two wins on the track, which when combined with her bronze in the omnium, makes her the most decorated rider. The sprint for second place was won by her trade team mate, the Netherlands’ Demi Vollering, with Dane Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig taking bronze. Hungary’s Kata Blanka Vas took the honours for the women’s under-23s after a spirited ride.

So that’s all folks. The pedals have stilled, the bikes have been put back on the rack, and the dust is settling across the city of Glasgow and around Scotland. Our time together has come to an end.

It’s been emotional. It’s also been historical, legendary and epic, and the hyperbole is totally warranted as this unique event, the first of its kind, has seen all kinds of two-wheeled action and drama light up the roads, trails, and boards of venues across Scotland, bringing hundreds of thousands of spectators together to support the athletes and breaking down boundaries across the sport. Para athletes and able-bodied athletes were integrated on the track, thousands of amateurs took part in the largest mass participation world championships ever, and fans around the world had the opportunity to view new cycling disciplines for the first time as the most extensive broadcast programme was rolled out globally to support the Championships.

We hope you’ve enjoyed it. We know we have. Until next time, we’ll see you out on the roads and trails as we all embrace the power of the bike.