Leader: How many events feature a volcano?

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THE Capital will make a spectacular backdrop tomorrow when some of the world’s top sportsmen take to the city’s streets.

Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish will be the best known names to the home audience when the Tour de Britain sets off on its latest stage from Holyrood Park, before winding through Edinburgh and out into East Lothian. How many major sporting events can boast of climbing both an extinct volcano and medieval streets?

It might not have quite the allure of the Tour De France but the British equivalent has over the last decade established itself as one of the showpiece events of the British sporting calendar. It isn’t often that you get the chance to see a sporting knight in action on your doorstep – and for free – so you can be sure there will be plenty of enthusiasts lining the route despite it being a school and work day.

The Tour tends to be well supported wherever it goes these days, attracing more than a million roadside spectators over the course of a week, as well as an estimated eight million on TV. It can now boast of being the biggest free-to-watch live sports event in the UK.

The city and organisers are to be commended for their approach that will see a rolling programme of road closures which will ensure all routes are reopened as soon as the last rider has gone in order to minimise disruption.

It promises to be a memorable day for anyone who is able to enjoy the spectacle. Hopefully it will inspire even more of us to get on our bikes and get active. There has been a sea change to British attitudes to cycling in recent years and the success of athletes like Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Bradley Wiggins has played its part.

The other hope is that the Tour de France organisers, who along with millions of sports fans on the Continent will be watching, will be impressed by what they see of Edinburgh. With a bit of luck, we could, like Yorkshire did last year, be welcoming the Grand Depart next.