Tour of Britain 2021: Edinburgh ready to host world champion cyclists
Edinburgh is preparing to host the Tour of Britain, the UK's biggest and longest-running international cycle race, which culminates with two full stages in Scotland this weekend.
World champion riders including Mark Cavendish and Julian Alaphilippe will tackle the country's roads for stages seven and eight across two days, including a trip through the capital before the event concludes in Aberdeen on Sunday.
While the Scottish Borders is no stranger to the race, Hawick will make its debut as a host venue for the start of Saturday's penultimate stage before cyclists pass through Jedburgh, Peebles and Kelso.
The 195km route finishes in Edinburgh against the backdrop of Holyrood Park as the city holds its first stage finale of the modern Tour of Britain, having previously welcomed the race for stage starts in 2015 and 2017, the latter as part of a Scottish Grand Départ.
The eighth and final stage on Sunday will take the riders from Stonehaven to Aberdeen across a 173km course which includes the much-anticipated ascent of the famed Cairn o’Mount climb.
This year’s overall winner will then be crowned on Aberdeen’s picturesque Esplanade, building on the success of the Tour Series, which has taken place in the Granite City since 2017.
The Tour of Britian, which started in Penzance on Sunday, is currently being led by British rider Ethan Hayter, of INEOS Grenadiers, who regained the blue leader's jersey following a sprint finish in Thursday's stage five run from Alderley Park to Warrington.
He held onto the lead today (Friday) despite Wout Van Aert winning stage six in the shadow of the Angel of the North to cut the Londoner's overall lead to just four seconds.
The 198-kilometre stage from Carlisle to Gateshead came down to a sprint between the three overall favourites on the short drag up to the line, and Van Aert came around Hayter to win his third stage while world champion Alaphilippe finished third.
Jumbo-Visma's Van Aert halved Hayter's lead with two stages still to go after the Ineos Grenadiers rider took victory in Warrington 24 hours earlier. Alaphilippe sits third, 21 seconds down.
"To be honest, I was quite happy with second today," Hayter said. "I was on the limit and to be in a three-up sprint with Van Aert, second is not too bad."