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Cross Country Mountain Biking

UCI Cycling World Championships

The World Champs are coming to Scotland… all of them!

Every year, the best cyclists in the world compete against one another in their various disciplines, spread across the globe. But this year, they’re all coming together in one place to battle it out for medals and glory. From the 3rd to the 13th August, the world’s most elite cyclists will descend on Glasgow to compete in events across Scotland, ranging from Downhill Mountain Biking to Artistic Cycling. Read on to learn about the different events, where they’re being hosted and when you need to book off work to go and watch.

BMX rider doing a freestyle stunt

BMX Freestyle Flat Land

When: 8-10 August

Where: Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow

The name says it all with this event. It’s all about getting creative on the bike, throwing the wildest and most impressive stunts on a flat surface with no features to drop or jump off. Contestants are scored on difficulty, style, and execution, with each routine lasting 2 to 3 minutes. If you want to see some bikes and riders throwing some mind-bending shapes then this is an event that you should add to your watch list.

BMX rider in the air on half-pipe jump

BMX Freestyle Park

When: 5-7 August

Where: Kelvingrove Park

Similarly, to the flatland event, this one is all about style, but rather than solid ground, there are features galore to throw jumps, drops and huge tricks off. It’s fast paced too with only two, one-minute rounds to impress the judges as much as possible. Rounds are scored out of 100 with points given for originality, number of tricks, difficulty and execution. This is a real spectacle, so make a note of the date so you can witness the world’s greatest freestylers pushing the limits of what is capable on a BMX.

Group of BMX riders race each other on course

BMX Racing

When: 6-9 & 12-13 August

Where: Glasgow BMX Centre

BMX racing is not a sport for the feint hearted. It’s fast and it’s chaotic with 8 riders setting off at once, all competing for the best line around the course. There are bumps, jumps and wall rides throughout, so the riders not only need to pedal with all their might, but also use the track to generate speed by pumping through rollers and landing jumps perfectly to gain an advantage over the competition. If you love fast paced action, then you won’t be disappointed here. Each round is over in 30 to 40 seconds and each rider must pass through round 1 and qualifying to compete in the final and be in with a chance of winning Gold.

Group of riders setting off from start line

Gran Fondo

When: 4 & 7 August

Where: Roads around Glasgow

The Gran Fondo or “Big Race” is a mass participation road cycling event with a huge starting pack, where the aim is simply to get around the course as fast as possible. This race is all about inclusion but that doesn’t mean it’s not competitive. The front of the pack will be hotly contested but even those who aren’t going for gold will be fighting for a new personal best. Pacing tactics count for more than sprinting ability here. With a course between 120 and 200km long with around 3000m of climbing, the Gran Fondo is as much a test of mental resilience as it is one of physical endurance. Follow the action from the side of the road or from your living room for nail biting drama, crushing lows, and soaring highs all the way to the finish line.

Indoor Cycling

When: 11-13 August

Where: Emirates Arena

Indoor Cycling comprises two separate disciplines: Artistic Cycling and Cycle Ball. Artistic Cycling is like ballet on two wheels, where competitors perform routines that demonstrate balance, creativity, and strength, to impress the judges. Think handstands on bars and surfing on saddles. There are a number of different events with solo and paired performances with different tricks on show in each. The skill on show here is truly remarkable to watch. If you haven’t heard of Artistic Cycling, you’ll want to take a look.

Cycle ball is just as impressive but in a totally different way. In this event, two teams of two compete to score goals against the other in a similar format to football. The challenge is that players must not touch the ground with their feet and they may only touch the ball with their bike, except when in goal. With such small pitches and teams, the action is fast paced and intense.

Two mountain bikers take on a technical cross country course

MTB Cross-Country

When: 8-12 August

Where: Glentress

Cross Country Mountain bike racing is the ultimate test of cycling endurance and technical ability. Competitors ride a 4 to 6 km off-road loop between 5 and 7 times, making for a total distance between 20 and 42km. The course is a purpose-built track with steep, rough hills and plenty of challenging technical features. Efficient climbing and fast descending are both required in spades for riders to be competitive.

A few mountain bikers come around a bend on a dirt track cross country course

MTB Cross-Country Marathon

When: 6 August

Where: Glentress

The cross-country marathon is a truly unique event. It involves riding an off-road route of around 100km in length, so it’s a real endurance challenge. However, the thing that really sets it apart is that as well as a field of around 150 elite racers competing, thousands of amateur riders set off behind them to enjoy and race on the same course as the pros.

A mountain biker races down a steep technical race course

MTB Downhill

When: 3-5 August

Where: Fort William

Downhill mountain biking is possibly the wildest and most exhilarating event of the World Championships, both for riders and spectators. The course starts half way up a Munro, Aonach Mòr, and runs right to the bottom of the mountain. It is chock full of rocks, roots, jumps and drops but the racers take it on at astonishing speeds of up to 70km/h. After practice runs, competitors must qualify for the final. Then they ride the course in reverse qualification order, so the fastest riders are the last to descend. This makes for close competition with the “hot seat” never being safe until the last rider is down.

A cyclist crosses the finish line, celebrating


When: 5-6 & 8-13 August

Where: Across Scotland

World Championship Road Racing is in intense battle with cyclists from around the world competing for the rainbow jersey. The racing is split into 3 events: Individual Road Race, Individual Time Trials and Mixed Team Relay. This might sound complex but we’ve broken each of them down for you.

Individual Road Race

This race is as simple in principle as the name implies: fastest to the finish wins. However, in practice it’s a complex game of endurance and tactics that often delivers a spectacular sprint finish. Riders will try to conserve energy by staying in the Peloton and drafting behind the riders at the front but they have to be careful not to get dropped if they want to be in with a chance of standing on the podium.

Individual Time Trial

Another solo event that is as straightforward as racing gets (if you don’t look at the space-age bikes). Riders set off individually, at intervals, and race as fast as possible to the finish. No drafting. Teamwork. Just the rider versus the clock. The margin between podium times can be miniscule, so riders must work for every marginal gain and give 100% from start to finish to win.

Mixed Team Relay

This team event involves a team of six, which comprises three men and three women, racing around a circuit. The men go first, all three setting off at once. Then, once the second man has passed the start/finish line, the women can set off. The clock stops when the second woman passes over the finish line. Because only four riders are required to cross the finish line, the remaining two can be used tactically to help preserve the energy of their teammates before they drop out. Teamwork, and communication are the key to claiming gold in this race.

Two track cyclists do a relay switch using a hand sling


When: 3-9 August

Where: Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, Glasgow

Track cycling is raced in a velodrome that’s 250m around the track with steeply banked sides to keep the riders on track while they take the corners at high speeds. But track racing is so much more than riding around in circle until someone crosses the finish line. There are multiple different events with different formats that test, not only the physical strength of the racers, but also their wit, communication, and tactical planning skills. There are 11 events in total, so there’s something different happening every day.


This is a one-on-one knockout race where two riders complete 3 laps of the velodrome. Fastest to the end wins. It may seem simple, however, the tactics are anything but. The rider that ends up in the lead is at a disadvantage because the other can draft, so it all comes down to the last lap!

Team Sprint

The team sprint is actually more of a time trial where a team of three try to get around the velodrome as fast as possible but each lap, one rider drops out. This means only one racer crosses the finish line, but their time counts for the whole team.

Time Trial

This is simplest event of them all. One rider at a time starts from a standstill. They must complete a set distance (1km for men and 500m for women) as fast as possible. It’s a straightforward race against the clock that requires blistering acceleration and maximum power output for the duration.


Riders follow in the slipstream of a motorbike (or electric bike) for 750m before it peels off and the real race begins. It’s an all-out high-speed sprint to the finish from here with tight times all the way to the finish line.

Individual Pursuit

This event is similar to the Individual Pursuit but, you guessed it, in teams. Teams of start off on opposite sides of the track and attempt to catch the other team. If no team catches the other, then fastest time wins.

Team Pursuit

This event is similar to the Individual Pursuit but, you guessed it, in teams. Teams of start off on opposite sides of the track and attempt to catch the other team. If no team catches the other, then fastest time wins.

Points Race

This is one of the more tactical events of the track racing programme. Individual riders compete in a field of up to 24 competitors to score points by either lapping the field or winning special “sprint laps”. Lapping the field earns 20 points, while coming 1st 2nd 3rd and 4th in sprint laps earns 5, 3, 2 and 1 points respectively. In the final sprint the stakes are even high as the points double. The race lasts 160 laps for men and 100 for women, so it’s a real test of endurance.


The Madison is very similar to the points race but it is a team of two relay. Any team can swap their riders at any point during the event using either a push or a hand sling to transfer momentum. It’s a longer event too, fought out over 200 laps of intense racing.


This is a straightforward race to complete 15 laps for men and 10 laps for women. It’s a mass start event, so there’s plenty of jostling for the lead, tactical slip-streaming and daring breakaways.


Don’t fall behind is the main rule for this event. The field of riders take a rolling start and must sprint every two laps. The last rider to cross the line on each sprint lap is eliminated from the race. This event is a game of energy conservation but it’s important not to be too careful, or riders will find themselves out of the running for medals.


The omnium is a medley of events, where competitors must score highly in Scratch, Tempo, Elimination and Points Race to secure a place on the podium.

A para-cyclist and competes in a road race

Para-Cycling Road

When: 9-13 August

Where: Dumfries and Galloway

Para-cycling road racing follows a very similar format to conventional road racing, just with adaptations for cyclists with physical or mental impairments. Mostly the adaptations are equipment based with the event itself not changing. Racers are grouped into classes based on the type of impairment they suffer from and are equipped accordingly. For example, visually impaired cyclists will be paired with an unimpaired “pilot” on a tandem bike, while those with lower limb impairment would be in a different class using a hand cycles. The racing is incredibly tight with more and more nations competing each year as para-cycling gains momentum and becomes more accessible.

A para-cyclist and pilot on tandem compete on the track aboard a tandem bike

Para-Cycling Track

When: 3-8 August

Where: Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, Glasgow

Para-cycling track racing features the same events as its conventional counterpart, just with adaptations for cyclists with physical or mental disabilities. Mostly the adaptations are equipment based with the event itself not changing. Racers are grouped into classes based on the type of impairment they suffer from and equipped accordingly. For example, visually impaired cyclists will be paired with an unimpaired “pilot” on a tandem bike, while those with upper limb injuries would be in a different class using bikes with adapted handlebars. 6 events will feature, from pure physical efforts like the individual pursuit to tactical challenges like the team sprint.

A trials rider leaps onto a large rock obstacle


When: 9-12 August

Where: Kelvingrove Park

Trials riding is a test of balance, bike handling and explosive power. Riders must navigate a 30 part obstacle course, split into 5 sections. There’s a maximum of 10 points available for each obstacle but deviating from the course, putting a foot down or falling off will all subtract penalty points. You’ll see riders jumping huge distances from a standstill, balancing on just one wheel and pulling off some outrageous feats of bike handling. It really is an event that must be seen to be believed.

If you want more information on the World Champs, then visit the UCI’s page for all of the details.

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