The hundreds, maybe even thousands of hours that Natalie Stevenson has spent on her bike in her spare bedroom have been leading to this point.

On Saturday, Stevenson will be part of the GB team to compete in the E-Cycling World Championships and what make it particularly special for Stevenson is that it’ll be on home soil, with the course snaking round the streets of her home city.

Typically, e-sports take place in the comfort of one’s own home but, uniquely, Stevenson and some of her GB teammates from their 17-strong squad will, instead, be riding in front of a live crowd, which will include six time Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy, in her home city of Glasgow.

For someone who has spent much of her time ahead of these Championships training in the solitary confinement of her own house, the thought of having home support is, she admits, quite a novelty.

“The live event is taking place only a few miles from my house and there’ll be a lot of the guys from my cycling club, Glasgow Ivy, there to support me,” the 38-year-old says.

“It’s such a big year for cycling in Scotland so to be part of this is very exciting.

“I was lucky enough to participate in the e-sports World Championships last year and I said at the time it was a once in a lifetime opportunity but to be doing it again this year, this time on home soil, really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

For someone who describes herself as a “not very healthy teenager”, the turnaround in her life over the past two decades has been remarkable.

As she began to dabble in sport in her mid-twenties, initially as a runner, scaling the heights of international competition was never her intention.

And it wasn’t until she ended up on two wheels that she really found her niche.

“Getting into sport was, for me, more about becoming healthier as I got older

“I wasn’t into sport when I was younger but by the time I got to about 25, I realised sport was a great way to feel better about myself and to get outside and meet people and now, it’s a massive part of my life.

If someone had told me when I was a teenager I’d be at this point, I’d never have believed it.”

It was in 2020 Stevenson joined an e-sports team in order to race on the virtual cycling platform, Zwift.

While her “real-life” results have been rapidly improving as she learns the ins and outs of road racing, it’s in e-cycling that she’s excelled.

And while there are, as you’d expect, many similarities to the two disciplines, there’s also a raft of differences that must be mastered.

“You have to treat all races the same and you have to prepare in the same way for both,” she says

“ But in e-sports, you don’t need to worry about the group of riders around you or technical corners or how torrential the rain’s going to be, which is nice.

“There’s a lot of similar tactics though, like when to attack, your positioning and team tactics.

“We have power-ups in e-sports which can give you an advantage too.”

These e-cycling World Championships are a hybrid between in-person and remote racers.

Of the 100 men and 100 women who will compete in the World Championships on Saturday, only ten, including Stevenson, will be riding in-person at The Engine Works in Glasgow’s west end to ride the route that takes the peloton around Glasgow’s streets and into the Scottish countryside, with the remainder of the riders racing virtually from around the globe.

The Championships are made up of three components; the first race is a rolling scratch race, with the seventy slowest men and seventy slowest women eliminated at its conclusion.

Of the thirty who progress to stage two – a hilly course – only ten will make it through to the final race – the sprint.

With Stevenson having finished 35th at the 2022 e-cycling World Championships, she has no hesitation in revealing what this year’s target is.

“My goal this year is to get into that top thirty and make it to the second race. Especially with race two being hilly, that will probably suit me the best too so I’d love to make it through,” she says.

“The standard of e-sports is really high though – some of the riders are amazing.

“There’s girls riding who are in pro teams and winning pro races so it’ll be a tough race, but I’m excited about it.”