— Published 3 August 2023

XXL cycling in Glasgow

Make no mistake about it: a new page in international cycling will be turned this Thursday, August 3, 2023. Surprisingly, it will be taking place in a land previously unaccustomed to hosting the world’s cycling elite in all its forms.

The first edition of the all-discipline UCI World Championships kicks off in Glasgow, Scotland. For eleven days, until Sunday August 13, it will be handing out world titles in spades, in thirteen cycling disciplines. In all, no fewer than 8,000 riders will cross paths in and around the Scottish city.

The event is unprecedented. But it is not destined to remain unique. The UCI has changed its usual practice, deciding to bring together all its disciplines once every four years in the pre-Olympic year. Glasgow inaugurates the prize list. The French region of Haute-Savoie will follow in 2027, with an even more extensive program: 19 disciplines. Last September, the UCI Management Committee designated the Haute-Savoie region as host of the second edition of the cycling “Super Mondials“. Its bid was preferred to that of the Netherlands.

The UCI and its President, David Lappartient, are not holding back their superlatives. Glasgow 2023 is set to be “the biggest cycling event in history.”

Excessive? The next few days will provide the beginnings of an answer. But even before the first pedal strokes, cycling’s world governing body has already partly succeeded in its gamble. It announced it on the eve of the opening ceremony: the 2023 World Championships will be the most publicized in history.

The result of a three-year collaboration between the UCI, the organizing committee and its partners, the Scottish Government, Glasgow Life, UK Sport and the local authorities, television coverage will exceed that of any previous World Championships. Between Eurovision Sport – the EBU’s sports division – for Europe and IMG in the rest of the world, the event will be broadcast in over 120 countries. All in all, record television coverage with 240 hours of live coverage and 30 hours of news and highlights.

David Lappartient comments: “Since 2016, the EBU and IMG have been ensuring that our world championships receive maximum exposure. This year, television production will reach record levels.

For Scotland, the stakes are high. The organizers are expecting over a million spectators. A challenge both “exciting and frightening” in a city of 632,000 inhabitants. Paul Bush, chairman of the organizing committee, explains: “The UCI 2023 World Championships are not only the biggest in cycling history, they are also the biggest sporting event in Scotland’s history, even bigger than a Rugby World Cup.”

Scary, indeed. But Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, are not newcomers. Along with Berlin for athletics, the city hosted the first edition of the European multisport championships in 2018. Four years earlier, it organized the Commonwealth Games. Paul Bush was already at the helm. A sure bet.