CYCLING fans will be able to watch some of the biggest names in the sport set off on the Tour of Britain this weekend before taking part themselves in a mass ride through the city centre.
Olympic silver medallist cyclist Mark Cavendish and double gold medallist Geraint Thomas are among those who will line up outside St Giles’ Cathedral for the Grand Depart of the 116-mile elite race on Sunday.
People who want to see the stars arrive and warm up before the teams are presented to spectators are advised to arrive around 9am at St Giles’. Team buses will be parked on the High Street and Cockburn Street.
The Grand Depart of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain is at 10.30am.
The teams will ride one and a half times around a short 4.5km circuit through the city before heading out towards Duddingston and on through East Lothian to the Scottish Borders and the finish in Kelso.
The race takes place over eight stages around the UK, in England, Scotland and Wales.
Crowds of up to 25,000 are expected to cheer competitors along the Capital’s streets. Good vantage points, where the cyclists will pass twice, include the High Street, Johnston Terrace and the Meadows.
Once the riders have left, cyclists will be able to follow in their tyre tracks by joining a free family-friendly bike ride along the same closed road route.
The HSBC City Ride starts from the Meadows at 11am.
For those without a bike, Cycle Scotland is hiring bikes out for the day. It has a mix of adult bikes for men and women available at £10 for two hours or £15 for three hours and some children’s bikes – £5 for two or three hours and ebikes – £20 for two hours and £30 for three hours.
Credit card details, deposits and photo ID will be required. Bikes can be reserved in advance by phone or e-mail but there will also be some cycles available on the day at the event hub in the Meadows.
After leaving the Meadows, the route heads east along Melville Drive, turning left along Buccleuch Street, up George IV Bridge for the Royal Mile, with a brief detour up and down Chambers Street.
After a short climb up the High Street, it is downhill on Johnston Terrace before heading back to the Meadows via Lady Lawson Street and Melville Drive.
As well as food and drink stalls and information about how to get cycling in Edinburgh, there will be free activities on offer, including virtual reality track cycling or racing on a pop-up street velodrome, a Sir Chris Hoy speed challenge and a chance to try out different types of bikes, from rickshaws to tandems.
Edinburgh Olympic gold medallist Callum Skinner said it would be a “fantastic” day of cycling. “It will make for a wonderful occasion and one which I hope will inspire thousands of people across the city.”