FIRST Minister Humza Yousaf has urged Scots to get involved as the world’s biggest cycling event gets under way.

The UCI Cycling World Championships are due to start on Thursday, with the opening ceremony taking place in Glasgow’s George Square on Wednesday.

The event, which will bring together thousands of the best athletes and para-athletes from across the globe – runs until August 13 in a number of venues across the country, with Scotland’s biggest city being the focal point.

READ MORE: Thrilling opening ceremony to welcome UCI World Championships to Scotland

Yousaf said: “Scotland is proud to host the first ever UCI Cycling World Championships. Cyclists from around the world will be participating in one of the biggest and most exciting sporting events of the year.

“I’m delighted to welcome all the competitors and the many international visitors.

“The championships will highlight the beauty of Scotland’s landscapes and the vibrancy of our cities. Several of the events don’t require tickets and there will be free activities to enjoy.

“Checking travel arrangements in advance will help people make the most of what’s on offer.

“As events get under way, I would like to thank all the individuals and partner organisations who have helped prepare for them.

“I encourage as many people as possible to get involved and hope they will be inspired to cycle as a result.

“We are already delivering a range of community events and activities, and have improved infrastructure across the country through the Cycling Facilities Fund and the Community Cycling Fund.

“This is also a great opportunity to promote the broader benefits of active travel for us all, which helps to reduce carbon emissions.”

The National: Events will come to Scotland from Thursday (Jane Barlow/PA)

Events - of which there are 11 in total - are due to take place across the country, including road cycling, para-cycling, mountain biking and BMX riding, with the majority taking place in Glasgow, alongside Fort William, the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway and Tayside.

Paul Bush, chairman of the championships, described them as a “first-of-its-kind mega event”.

“The 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships will again showcase Scotland’s status as a world-class events destination and will also deliver a real and lasting impact for cycling in communities across the country,” he added.

The opening of the event comes on the same day Scotland’s most famous cyclist launched a partnership between the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and sportscotland aimed at boosting the opportunities for those with poor mental health to take part in physical activity.

Launching the collaboration, Olympic champion Chris Hoy said: “Being active is a terrific way to help us stay both physically and mentally well.

“This partnership is about making sure we can all join in with sport and exercise, so everyone has the chance to feel those benefits.

“SAMH and sportscotland are already working together to make a difference, and this new, enhanced partnership aims to have a positive impact on even more people’s lives.”

In the past three years, the organisations have worked together to upskill 800 people working in sports and training 400 active schools co-ordinators.