Edinburgh to host Tour of Britain 2017 ‘Grand Depart’

Mark Cavendish leads the way as the Tour of Britain visits Edinburgh in 2015. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Mark Cavendish leads the way as the Tour of Britain visits Edinburgh in 2015. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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THE Capital is set to welcome some of the world’s top road cyclists as the first stage of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain gets under way on the streets of the city in September.

World-class riders – including the likes of Britain’s Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel of Germany – will race through the streets of the Old Town at the start of the 188-kilometre (116 mile) opening stage, the first time the race has visited the city since 2015.

Edinburgh’s winding and cobbled streets offer a challenging and dramatic start

Councillor Richard Lewis

The route will take riders through the historic city centre before winding its way into East Lothian and ending with a 49-mile loop around Kelso in the Borders, with crowds of up to 25,000 expected to cheer competitors along the Capital’s streets.

The eight-stage race – previously won by five-time Olympic champion and Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2013 – features some of the top riders on the UCI European tour circuit and is one of the most prestigious events in the race calendar. Tour of Britain race director Mick Bennett said the city was the “ideal backdrop” for the start of the tour.

“We are delighted to be able to start this year’s Tour of Britain from the very heart of Edinburgh for the first time, and from a location that is famous the world over,” he said.

“The backdrop from the Royal Mile of St Giles Cathedral and the castle will provide a fitting send off for the world’s top riders.”

Edinburgh previously played host to stage four of the tour in 2015 after tourism chiefs had submitted failed bids to hold the “Grand Depart” of the Tour de France in 2017 and 2018 in the capital.

On that occasion, riders wound their way through the heart of the city on a route taking them into Holyrood Park, past the Scottish Parliament building and along the Royal Mile towards Edinburgh Castle before descending down Johnston Terrace, along the Meadows and past Arthur’s Seat on their way out of the city to East Lothian.

Councillor Richard Lewis said he was thrilled to see the race return to the capital after a two-year absence and believes Edinburgh offers a “challenging” start for riders.

He added: “Thousands of people turned out to see the 2015 leg in Edinburgh and this year’s event will be second chance to catch the spectacular sight.

“Edinburgh’s winding and cobbled streets offer a challenging and dramatic start to the Tour of Britain in Scotland. I’m sure the competitors will enjoy the thrill of hurtling through the Old Town.”

Paul Bush OBE, director of events at VisitScotland, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming the Tour of Britain back to Scotland this summer.”

He added: “The open stage will take in some truly wonderful and iconic scenery as it travels from Edinburgh, through East Lothian and onto the Scottish Borders, providing an amazing spectacle for spectators and riders alike.”