SOME of the worlds best cyclists will race along the streets of the Capital later this year as the city was unveiled as the host of a Tour of Britain stage.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to line the fourth-stage route on September 9, with hotels, bars and restaurants reaping a windfall of up to £5.8m based on estimates from previous hosts.
Tourism businesses could also feel a long-term boost, with three hours of live TV broadcast per stage beaming views of Edinburgh to a global audience of up to eight million viewers in 120 countries.
The fourth stage of the 2015 Tour of Britain will be the first time the biggest cycling event in the UK has visited Edinburgh since 1999, the last year it was run before being scrapped for five years and launched under new management.
While no competitors have been confirmed, it is expected the biggest teams and riders will take part, including Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel.
Securing a stage start in the Tour of Britain will be seen as a boost to the city’s hopes of one day hosting the Grand Depart of the Tour de France. The Capital narrowly missed out on kicking off the biggest cycling event in the world in 2014 when organisers selected Yorkshire instead.
In October, councillors signed off £225,000 of investment over three years to help major cycling events such as the Tour of Britain to the city.
Councillor Richard Lewis, Edinburgh’s new Festivals and Events Champion, said: “This will be an exciting event for the city and a highlight for 2015.
“Elite cyclists from all over the world will descend on the Capital and the dramatic backdrop of Edinburgh’s winding streets will make for a spectacular sight. This is going to be a must-see event for both local people and visitors to the city.”
Riders will set off from Holyrood Park before making their way into East Lothian via Musselburgh, then heading south through the Borders and north-east England, crossing the finish line in Blyth, near Morpeth.
Simon Bullock, chairman of the Edinburgh Road Club, said the event would inspire a new generation of cyclists in the city.
He said: “I myself got involved in cycling after seeing the PruTour in 1999 when it came to Edinburgh. It was the end of the race in 1999 and the race did several laps of the city, which was spectacular.
“That coupled with stage starts in Peebles in 2012 and 2013, which I took my children to – they were in awe of seeing riders that they’ve only seen on the television up close. I think it’s great for the city, and great for the sport to be showcased in such a beautiful city.”
Federation of Small Businesses development manager Gordon Henderson said: “This is great news for Edinburgh. I think you’ll find a big crowd will turn out to watch. If it’s a morning start, that means all the teams will stay in Edinburgh the night before.
“That’s a lot of hotel rooms, a lot of meals, and a lot of hospitality.”
Commenting on the announcement, Mick Bennett, Race Director of Friends Life Tour of Britain organisers SweetSpot said: “I am sure many cycling fans will be excited, just like we are, at the prospect of seeing the world’s top riders on the streets of the Scottish capital, and will hopefully use the race as an opportunity to visit the areas we pass through.”