Mountain bike trails at Cathkin Braes Country Park are now ready to host elite riders from across Europe as part of the Glasgow 2018 European Championships, following an upgrade to and investment in the trails.
Five times British Mountain Bike Championships gold medallist, Grant Ferguson, came along to show off the exciting new features on the course today, ahead of Glasgow 2018. Ferguson represented Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games where he finished 5th in the Cross Country Race, he won his first World Cup gold in Val di Sole, Italy, in 2015, and went on to make his Olympic debut in Rio at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Recently returned from the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Ferguson is focused on qualifying for what would be his second major championship on home soil.
The UEC European Cycling Mountain Bike Championships will be hosted at Cathkin Braes on Tuesday, 7 August and the trails now have a number of new features including a brand new start and finish loop built to UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) standards.
The trails, which regularly attract a multitude of thrill-seekers from across Scotland, occupy the highest point in the city area and will provide a spectacular backdrop for the competition.
Large crowds of spectators are expected to take advantage of this free, un-ticketed event in Castlemilk at the same site which staged Mountain Biking during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
The trails have now held their first event with the Scottish Cross Country mountain bike series. Competitors at Glasgow 2018 will be able to challenge themselves on new technical elements of the course. This includes short sharp climbs and flowing single track downhill sections, as well as the Double Dare section which will see athletes racing head to head on parallel tracks.
Speaking about the Championships, Grant Ferguson said: "It would be fantastic to compete at Cathkin Braes again in another major championship, it's such a great opportunity to be able to race in Glasgow in front of a home crowd. The standard of the competition is going to be amazing and I hope everyone will come out and support all the riders, as they take on the challenge of the exciting new features on the course.
"It is also brilliant that cycling is one of six sports holding its European Championships as part of Glasgow 2018. It is a great opportunity for sports fans to come out and watch a wealth of sporting action in the city over 11 days."
Changes to the trails also ensure it can accommodate riders of all abilities and include new beginner and intermediate skills trails, a pump track and three new descents of blue, red and orange jump grades for those looking for added adrenaline.
Sports Minister, Aileen Campbell said: "Cathkin Braes looks set to be a fantastic venue for The European Cycling Mountain Bike Championships and beyond. I would encourage as many people as possible to get out and make the most of this free event this summer and cheer on the competitors. It is great to hear that the trails are suitable for riders of all abilities and I am sure they will continue to be used by recreational mountain bike riders for years to come."
David McDonald, Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council said: "The redevelopment of Cathkin Braes has created a fantastic facility for hundreds of recreational mountain bikers in Glasgow and Scotland, as well as elite riders competing at Glasgow 2018. The course has been created to test the very best in Europe, while also building on the legacy benefit for all ability levels by incorporating fun trails where beginners can hone their skills."
Craig Burn, Chief Executive, Scottish Cycling added: "The European Cycling Mountain Bike Championships will be a fun, free event that anyone can come along to and we look forward to seeing these new trails stage this exciting competition in August."
The facilities upgrade includes a new car park, making the trails more easily accessible to the local community.
Stewart Harris, Chief Executive, sportscotland said: "It will be fantastic to see the world's top riders testing their skills on the upgraded trails, but it will also be exciting to see those inspired by the European Championships trying the sport for the first time, or developing their skills, in the months and years to come. Cathkin Braes is already established as a huge asset, both for the local community and the cycling community as a whole, and that's why we have invested National Lottery funding into making the trails even more accessible."
Glasgow will be the first city to simultaneously stage four Olympic discipline cycling championships within its city boundaries, with BMX, Track and Road Race and Time Trial events also taking place as part of the Championships this August.