Wiggo and co draw the crowds, despite the clouds

PEEBLES , Scotland, UK. 15 September 2013.'Tour Of Britain 2013'Start Stage 1 - Peebles '''(Photo Credit: Rob Gray)
PEEBLES , Scotland, UK. 15 September 2013.'Tour Of Britain 2013'Start Stage 1 - Peebles '''(Photo Credit: Rob Gray)
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A huge turnout of cycling enthusiasts congregated on Sunday morning to cheer the Tour of Britain through the Borders.

Despite the atrocious weather conditions, spectators lined routes in Peebles, Selkirk, Ashkirk, Hawick and Newcastleton before the cyclists, including top Brits Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, rode on to finish the first stage at Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfries.

In Peebles 10 local cafes opened their doors early and gave away free Tour of Britain mugs to the first customers through the door, and at the race start 98 youth riders from Peebles Cycling Club and Kranked Cycling Club led the professional riders out of the town on the neutralised start, which drew huge cheers from the crowd.

Because it was the first stage of the race, Peebles was fortunate that the riders had been in the area from Saturday and Cavendish, with the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team, drew large crowds in Cocoa Black on Saturday afternoon when they arrived for refreshments.

Cavendish commented: “We went into Peebles and it was pretty crazy, and I think that is exciting.

“The crowds were unbelievable, even in the bad weather.

“That’s testament not only to how big cycling has become in the country across all disciplines, but for the amount of times this race had been on and what it’s become.

“The standard of the teams that come here is phenomenal.

“In terms of racing quality, it’s as big as some of the bigger-category races, so I think it should have no problem in the future becoming a biggercategory event and having an even bigger field.”

Councillor Stuart Bell told The Southern: “The Borderers have really embraced this event, which pulls in greater numbers of spectators year after year.

“There were huge crowds in Peebles from very early in the morning and, despite the rain, the Tour of Britain cyclists were fantastic with the crowds and especially with the children, which added to the great atmosphere on the day.”

In the event it was Elia Viviani who claimed victory on the gruelling opening stage of the Tour.

Viviani outsprinted compatriot Alessandro Petacchi and 2013 Milan San Remo winner Gerald Ciolek at the end of the 209 kilometres, which lasted over six hours.

Local shop Calzeat won the window dressing competition with a brilliantly-creative cycling themed display.