SCOTLAND'S reputation as a destination for some of the world's best mountain biking will be boosted by the opening of the 2014 Commonwealth Games track – one year before the athletes assemble in Glasgow.

The Cathkin Braes Trail, on Glasgow's southern boundaries, will open for public use from next spring, with experts insisting it is on a par with, if not better than, the London Olympics track.

The team behind the circuit's construction say 16 months of wear and tear from public use will have it "Games-ready", while its central location will make it a huge draw for one of the UK's most popular participation sports and give a long-term boost to the local economy.

It has been designed by Phil Saxena, the mountain bike track designer for the Beijing Olympics who is also the official race track designer for the Mountain Bike World Cup series.

Mr Saxena has built more than 50 world-class mountain bike race tracks in more than 20 different countries, including Canada, France, Switzerland, Italy and the US.

Following the decision to hold a world cup cycling event at Glasgow's new velodrome in November, The Herald also understands the UK's governing body for cycling is on the verge of naming Cathkin Braes as the venue for the 2013 UK Mountain Bike Championships, with as many as 700 riders taking part.

Glasgow City Council, which is behind the venue, would only say it was working to try and identify a high- quality event for Cathkin Braes between its completion and the 2014 Games.

When completed, the course will be approximately 5.8km long through a mix of terrain such as open heathland, wooded areas and challenging climbs and descents. Compared to the narrow London course, there is much more scope for riders to race side-by-side, making it more of a spectacle for fans, while riders nearing the end of the course must navigate their way through a difficult wetland.

With Scotland's reputation as a destination for international mountain biking growing, 20,000 spectators attending world events such as the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup at Fort William, and cyclists travelling all over the UK for quality courses, there are high expectations it will boost mountain-bike tourism.

Glasgow 2014 hopeful Rab Wardell, a veteran of Commonwealth Games, said: "I really do like the London course, which was great for racing, but this trail is unique and will offer much more for the public, who, if they live in Glasgow, can be within 15 minutes of it. The area is spectacular, especially being so close to the city. It's an accessible sport but people are exceptionally passionate about it and travel from the south of England to Scotland's tracks. And it's a sport that's continuing to grow. The potential for the Cathkin course is just amazing."

Councillor Archie Graham, head of the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow City Council, said: "This team designs and builds the best mountain bike trails in the world. We are very excited to be working with them to put a top-class venue on the doorstep of 600,000 Glaswegians and within easy reach for millions more across Scotland."

Mr Saxena said: "The opportunities for developing the sport of mountain biking at Cathkin Braes are excellent, with a mix of woodland, moorland and grasslands to give the riders a real challenge."

Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, said: "Facilities such as this will help to cement Scotland's reputation as a top outdoor activity destination."