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Hopes are building in Lochaber that the region’s Nevis Range mountain resort will be named as a venue for part of the biggest cycling event ever to take place anywhere in the world.
It was back in 2019 that Scotland was announced as the host country for the first UCI Cycling World Championships, to be staged across 10 days in August 2023. The event will bring together 13 existing individual cycling disciplines into one global mega event.
With more than 2,600 competitors from around 120 countries, an expected one million spectators and more than one billion viewers worldwide, the ‘Cycling Worlds’ will be one of the top 10 sporting events on the planet.
A nationwide series of events that promises to bring the ‘power of the bike’ to the whole of Scotland, it is a format that the governing body plans to repeat every four years.
Glasgow was already announced as the venue for eight of the 13 world championships that will comprise the overall event and this was followed in September of this year with news of Dumfries and Galloway becoming the first venue outside of Glasgow to be unveiled as a host.
Glasgow will host championships for BMX, road cycling, track cycling and track para-cycling amongst others, while Dumfries and Galloway will be home to the para-cycling Road championships.
Venues for the remaining four disciplines will be announced over the coming months, including championships for mountain biking cross-country, downhill, marathon and cross-country eliminator competitions.
And those attending last Thursday’s Tourism Day event at Ben Nevis Distillery – part of Lochaber Ideas Week – heard that Nevis Range’s pedigree in holding world class mountain biking competitions should see it the front-runner to be named as host for the downhill mountain bike races.
Gavin Ross, from the Scottish Government Major Events Department, said organisers of the Cycling Worlds had dedicated delivery teams in place, one of which was looking at the supply of high quality value for money accommodation available in each area at the time of the championships.
‘We want people to have a positive memory of Scotland, of this area and elsewhere, providing opportunities and new long-term markets for this area and Scotland to think about,’ said Mr Ross.
As well as the Cycling Worlds being used as a vehicle to get more people of all ages out on bikes, not just for competition, but for health and environmental reasons, plus aiding recovery from the Covid pandemic, there are hopes it will showcase Scotland as a year-round visitor destination.
Naturally, the question on the lips of everyone present was when it would be known if Fort William had been selected as a championships venue.
Mr Ross answered: ‘At the moment, the known venues are only Glasgow and Dumfriesshire. I am speaking in general terms that this event is going to be delivered across Scotland, so that is a question I cannot answer.’
However, giving his view, Frazer Coupland, chief executive officer of Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, said, while he was ‘not a betting man’, it was hard to see the downhill mountain biking championship going anywhere other than the Nevis Range resort on the outskirts of Fort William.
‘There isn’t another downhill track equivalent to Fort William anywhere else in Scotland. I very much would like and hope to see the downhill event in this area and hopefully that may be announced soon,’ he added.
‘I think, I suspect, that the mountain bike cross-country and marathon will be in the Tweed Valley. We don’t know that for definite but that’s sort of our understanding of it.’ See page four for more on this story.
Hopes are high that Nevis Range’s world-class mountain biking runs will see it host events as part of the 2023 championships.
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Lochaber Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Frazer Coupland delivers the welcome address at Thursday’s Tourism Day in Ben Nevis Distillery. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO_F48_IdeasWeek_IdeasWeek_Tourism Day01