Thousands are expected to turn out tomorrow for a major cycling event featuring the Capital’s Olympic medallist Sir Chris Hoy.
Roads around the Grassmarket will be closed throughout the day as the country’s top professional cycling teams compete in the men’s Pearl Izumi Tour and the women’s Matrix Fitness Grand Prix series.
Organisers of the televised event – which is coming to Edinburgh for the first time – hope to attract between 6000 and 10,000 spectators. The races will take place on a 1.3-kilometre loop around the Grassmarket, taking in Victoria Street, part of George IV Bridge and Candlemaker Row. One lane of the bridge will be closed, while other parts of the route will be blocked off during the afternoon.
Youth races and an amateur ride will kick off at around 1pm, before the main races start at 5.30pm. Sir Chris will be egging on the competitors while on the final stop of his 2014 HOY Tour, showcasing his new range of children’s bikes on an inflatable test track in the Grassmarket.
He will then ride a few laps of the circuit with 50 fans who will be drawn at random in a prize draw by Evans Cycles.
Sir Chris said: “I always love coming home to Edinburgh, this week will be extra special.” Series race director Mick Bennett said: “Coming after Tuesday’s Durham round, Edinburgh will be another tough test for our teams and riders.
“We have been looking forward to the Edinburgh event ever since it was confirmed, and think that the Grassmarket circuit will provide for spectacular racing and a great atmosphere from which spectators can enjoy the event.”
The event has been endorsed by Edinburgh City Council, which allocated £50,000 of funding towards it.
Councillor Steve Cardownie, the local authority’s festival and events champion, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Chris Hoy to Edinburgh’s Grassmarket as the city hosts part of the Pearl Izumi Tour series. Thursday evening is going to be a fantastic opportunity for people to see Britain’s top cyclists go head to head against the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh’s Grassmarket, and will provide families with a fun day out in the Capital.”
As well as the full road closures, other streets – including Warden’s Close, Hunter’s Close and Heriot Bridge – will be closed at the junctions where they meet the Grass-market.
Tony Kenmore, who is a director of Central Cabs and a board member of active travel charity Sustrans, said: “It’s a given that there’s a little bit of inconvenience, but for the most part we are highly supportive and greatly appreciative of these events.”
Highlights of the Edinburgh round of the series will be shown on ITV4 at 9pm on Friday, with a repeat at 6am on Saturday.