Borders cyclists gear up for closed road event

Photograph by Kevin Maclean
Photograph by Kevin Maclean

The Scottish Borders looks set to host its first ever closed road cycling sportive this summer.

Up to 3000 amateur cyclists are expected to take part in this year’s Tour o’ the Borders – and for the first time participants will likely be able to enjoy the route completely traffic free.

Scottish Borders Council has granted, in principle, organisers of the event permission to close a selection of roads around the region on Sunday, August 10. The route will pass through Peebles, Cardrona, Selkirk, Clovenfords and Roberton, with participants choosing to take in either a 76 or 55 mile circuit. Organisers expect riders will take anywhere from three and a half to eight hours to complete the course. A full map of both routes is available at www.tourotheborders.com/event-info

Throughout the event the road closure team will minimise any inconvenience to locals. Tour o’ the Borders organisers have also set up a community page on their website, where anyone concerned about the road closure arrangements or implications can find out more. Anyone with specific questions can also reach out to the organisers by emailing community@tourotheborders.com.

The event is backed by both Scottish Borders Council and EventScotland and has grown rapidly – from 286 riders in 2012 to a predicted 3000 this year. Organisers predict this year’s ride will deliver around £500,000 to the local economy.

Tour o’ the Borders also has two new supporters, with Scottish cycle clothing brand Endura sponsoring the event and MacMillan Cancer Support acting as its charity partner.

There is currently only one other closed road sportive in Scotland, the Etape Caledonia in Perth and Kinross, which is now worth £1million to the area.

Neil Dalgleish, Tour o’ the Borders Director, said: “Sportives are really growing in popularity across the UK and the huge number of entrants we have this year is testament to that. There will be some disruption caused by the road closures, but we hope that people see the economic benefits outweigh that. The economic impact of the event stands at around half a million pounds, which is a huge sum for a one day event.”

Cycling is a key feature in the Scottish Borders Tourism Strategy, with the region trying to grow its share of the £239million that biking brings to Scotland’s economy each year.

Neil added: “When the Etape Caledonia was first planned some people were opposed to the road closures, but it is now widely recognised as a vital fixture in the region’s tourism calendar – there’s even calls for the event to be run twice a year. We hope that people in the Borders understand that we plan to keep disruption to an absolute minimum and they get behind us to support the event.”

Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland added: “The Scottish Borders is home to some of the country’s most spectacular scenery, which is just one of the reasons the area is a must-visit for cyclists. Mass participation events bring large numbers of people to the area, which in turn delivers a significant economic impact with additional spend in hotels, restaurants, cafes and shops etc. The Tour of the Borders was very successful last year, and the strength of the event has seen registrations fill quickly for the 2014 event. Scotland is the perfect stage for events, and this event has all of the necessary components to grow year on year and continue to drive benefits for the region.”