This Sunday, the streets of Scotland will be a-buzz as 20 of the world’s top professional cycling teams take to the roads for the opening stage of the 2017 OVO Energy Tour of Britain, from Edinburgh to Kelso.
Among the top names already confirmed for the race are Team Sky duo Geraint Thomas and Michal Kwiatkowski, recently-crowned European Champion Alexander Kristoff from Norway, World Time Trial Champion Tony Martin and multiple British Champion Alex Dowsett.
Stage One, lasting 188 kms, starts from outside St Giles Cathedral on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile at 10.30am on September 3 and progresses through leading city centre spots adn viallages in East Lothian, with live TV coverage on ITV4.
Fans in the Borders have a tremendous selection of places from which to watch, with the Tour racing through Duns (approximately 12.30pm) and Coldstream, where there will be an Eisberg Sprint (approximately 1pm) before passing through the centre of Kelso twice, at around 1.30pm and again for the finish at around 3.20pm.
As well as a big screen showing the whole race live, Kelso will host the official promo zone, with stands from Tour partners and a static bike challenge.
With the race taking in a 79-kilometre loop of the Scottish Borders, there is also the chance for fans to watch at one of the SKODA King of the Mountains climbs in the beautiful locations of Scott’s View (approximately 2.30pm) or above Melrose near the Eildon Hills (around 2.45pm). The latter comes just after the final Eisberg Sprint in Melrose High Street.
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s director of events, said: “Spectators are in for an amazing opening stage to this year’s OVO Energy Tour of Britain as they are treated to world-class racing set against the backdrop of some of Scotland’s most iconic and spectacular locations and countryside.
“EventScotland is proud to be a long-term partner of the Tour of Britain and help bring the race back to Scotland each year to showcase what’s on offer to an international audience of cycling enthusiast. With more than 2000 miles of the National Cycle Network covering the country, Scotland truly is the perfect stage for cycling events.”
OVO Energy Tour of Britain race director Mick Bennett added: “From the world-famous city centre of Edinburgh, via the coast and moors of East Lothian to the beautiful views and towns of the Scottish Borders, Stage One has a bit of everything.
“With our partners, we have planned a very spectator friendly route and look forward to cycling fans from across Scotland and the north of England turning out to cheer on and support the amazing field of riders we will have.”
The OVO Energy Tour of Britain is British Cycling’s premier road cycling event, giving cycling fans the opportunity to see the world’s best teams and riders competing on their door step, taking place between September 3-10.
Spectators are also being encouraged to use the railway to visit the Borders for the first stage of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain this weekend.
The Borders Railway allows Tour of Britain spectators to take in both the Grand Depart in Edinburgh and the stage as it passes through the Borders, utilising the train between Edinburgh Waverley and Tweedbank.
Upon arriving at Tweedbank, they can either walk the short distance to Melrose or jump on a local bus service, including the City Sightseeing Scottish Borders bus tour. This hop-on hop-off service operates on a loop and includes stops at Scott’s View and Melrose as well as Tweedbank Station and Galashiels Transport Interchange.
Meanwhile, Sunday will also see the annual Tesco Bank Tour O’ The Borders sportive take place, starting in Peebles.
This year, there are routes of 120km and 88km and both feature spectacular scenery and some of the best road cycling terrain in Scotland.
Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for business and economic development, Councillor Mark Rowley, said: “Excitement is building as both the Tour of Britain and Tour O’ The Borders approach.
“With Kelso featuring prominently in the Tour of Britain’s first stage, we have provided 2500 pupils in the Kelso and Jedburgh areas with Tour of Britain water bottles to encourage them to come out with their families and watch these world-class cyclists in action.
“The railway has already brought more visitors to our area, and now offers spectators a fantastic chance to see the Tour of Britain in both the historic streets of Edinburgh and the beauty of the Borders.”
Kelso Wheelers Cycling Club junior member Gregor Forbes said: “I am really looking forward to seeing some of the best cyclists in the world in Kelso. “The club has lots of events on in the run up to Sunday, so it’s been an exciting week.”
Paul Bush added: “Scotland is the perfect stage for events and the Scottish Borders will provide a spectacular backdrop for spectators and riders alike on the opening stage of this year’s OVO Energy Tour of Britain.
“We would encourage spectators to make the journey on the Borders Railway to soak up the atmosphere at this key event in the country’s sporting calendar.”
Alasdair Smart, the ScotRail Alliance’s tourism manager, said: “We are delighted that the Tour of Britain is returning to the Borders and look forward to helping visitors from across the country and beyond experience the beauty and rich natural heritage of the area.”
Further spectator information, including full estimated timings, is available from www.scotborders.gov.uk/tourofbritain.