The UK’s biggest road cycling race will pass through the Scottish Borders this year, with Kelso providing the backdrop to a stage finish.
Organisers of the 2015 Tour of Britain have announced that this year’s event will be coming to Scotland on two separate days for the first time.
Stage 3, which starts in Cumbria on September 8, passes through Newcastleton, Hawick, Selkirk, Tweedbank, Melrose and St Boswells before the final kilometres through Kelso and the finish in the grounds of Floors Castle.
The race resumes a day later from Edinburgh. Stage 4 will pass through the centre of the city before the world’s top riders head into East Lothian and then through Duns and Coldstream to Northumberland.
The stage will then head along a route from Wooler to Alnwick, and down the Northumberland coastline to finish in Blyth.
Further details of both stages, including stage maps, will be announced in the summer, along with details of the 20 competing teams.
But some of the world’s top cyclists are expected to turn up to compete. Last year the UK’s favourites Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish were in the starting line up and hopes are high that they will be competing again this year.
The race is to be broadcast in over 130 countries, including live coverage on the ITV network,
The Borders has featured in the race on several previous occasions. The tour last visited the area in 2013, when Peebles hosted the race’s ‘Grand Depart’, and stages also started from Peebles in 2009 and 2011 and from Jedburgh in 2012.
Jane Holmes, treasurer of Berwickshire cycling club Auchencrow Thistle, expects the event to be hugely popular.
“It is brilliant news,” she said. “The race was very well received in Peebles a couple of years ago and the people of Duns are very good at coming out to support big events.
“Some of our club members went to Yorkshire to watch the Tour de France last year. Watching the peleton go past on our doorstep will be a spectacular sight. Until you see it live, you can’t appreciate how fast they go.”
Race director Mick Bennett said: “This year’s route gives us the fantastic opportunity to have two days of racing in Scotland and to make first visits to the east of the Scottish Borders and Edinburgh. Hopefully cycling fans will use the race as an opportunity to visit the areas we pass through”.
Councillor Stuart Bell, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for economic development, said: “The return of such a prestigious event emphasises our ability to host high-profile events here in the Borders and is further recognition of the fact that the Scottish Borders is Scotland’s leading cycling destination.”