UCI World Championships will bring cycling home to pedal-powered Dumfries roots of inventor Kirkpatrick McMillan
Not far from where Kirkpatrick MacMillan honed the first pedal bicycle in 1839, contemporaries of modern-day cyclists Finn Graham and Jenny Holl will compete in the Para-road cycling sections of the competition, which will have 13 events spread across Scotland.
Eight, including the mixed team relay, will be based in Glasgow, however Graham, who returned from the Tokyo Paralympics with two silver medals this summer will be among the field hoping for success in the southern region in August 2023.
“Ever since I heard about the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships coming to Glasgow and Scotland I’ve been excited about it and it is great that Dumfries and Galloway will host the Para-cycling Road events. The landscape and scenery in the region is stunning and will be a great host to the Championships,” the 21-year-old said. "To have the Para-cycling Road World Championships involved alongside the other Championships is huge for our sport and it is a huge ambition of mine to take part in front of a home crowd as well.”
Graham will be one of 300 athletes from more than 30 countries expected to compete with the Road Race and Time Trial events around the area which, with its rich cycling history, has hosted many events in the past including the Tour of Britain on 10 occasions. Holl is a previous competitor and like Graham, returned from Japan with a silver medal earlier this year, along with tandem partner Sophie Unwin.
The 21-year-old explained: “I’ve raced in Dumfries and Galloway before and I know it will be a great host. It will be such a special occasion for the whole cycling family to come together and compete in one Championships and I’m especially proud that it will happen for the first time in my home country.”
In total, across the 13-event championships, 2,600 athletes are expected to compete from around 120 countries, in front of an estimated one million spectators in Scotland, and more than one billion viewers worldwide.
Various disciplines will be contested within the para-cycling events, and Edinburgh-based American hand-cyclist Ken Talbot, who set the world speed record at 51.86mph, added: “I think people will be hugely inspired when they see what can be achieved by these para-athletes and I would love it if it can attract more people into cycling either for sport, leisure or travel regardless of their physical abilities.
"It will be such a special experience to see hand-cyclists from all over the world competing alongside other world-class athletes from multiple cycling disciplines.”
That Glasgow and Dumfriesshire have both been the first venues announced is particularly appropriate too. MacMillan’s test trip of his new invention in 1839 was a 68-mile journey north to the city after honing his balance over the local roads around his blacksmith’s workshop in Keir, near Thornhill. A stone plaque stands as a permanent reminder on the wall of the site where he developed the first pedal-powered cycle, and a replica remains on display in a local museum.