Thrills and excitement of Tour come to Kelso

A previous Tour visit to Kelso (picture by andersonDRUMMOND Photography)
A previous Tour visit to Kelso (picture by andersonDRUMMOND Photography)

Kelso town centre will be buzzing with activity and entertainment for all ages throughout this Sunday, September 8, as the Scottish Borders welcomes the OVO Energy Tour of Britain.

Stage two of the UK’s biggest professional cycle race will start and finish in Kelso, with the whole 166km route within the Scottish Borders.

Local stallholders will share space within the Tour Village area in Kelso town centre, while Scottish Borders Council, Visit Kelso and charity Live Borders are arranging a variety of entertainment and fun activities which will be run throughout the day and are accessible to all.

Two big screens will broadcast the race live and there will be a cycle pump track/skills area, drop-in spinning fitness sessions, a disability bike demonstration and live music from up and coming local performers.

Many local businesses will also open especially for the day, with thousands of spectators set to head to the town for the race action. Town centre businesses are also set to get into the cycling spirit with a window dressing competition.

Free parking will be available at Border Events Centre, Springwood Park.

Councillor Mark Rowley, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for business and economic development, said: “We have worked closely with our partners including the event organisers, Visit Kelso and Live Borders, to ensure there is lots for visitors to do and see in Kelso throughout the day.

“This is the first time we’ve hosted both a stage start and finish and we hope to build on the success of the event in 2017, which was a fantastic occasion with an estimated 10,000 spectators in Kelso.”

Visit Kelso will take over much of the town’s Woodmarket during the day and there will also be entertainment on the podium in front of the Cross Keys Hotel as well as activities in the Tour Village located on the Horsemarket side of The Square.

Tina Newton, chairman of Visit Kelso, said: “Thanks to our members and some funding from Scottish Borders Council, we are delighted to have been able to put on lots of events and competitions to encourage businesses and residents to make the most of this opportunity to promote our town to a huge audience.

“There are not many events in the town that can boast a global television audience, so we’re going to make sure that Kelso is looking at its very best.”

The world’s top professional cycling teams and riders are expected to arrive in Kelso from 9am on Sunday, with the team buses parking up in The Knowes car park.

The Tour Village will open at 10am, where the riders will sign on at the podium until 10.50am, before the race start at 11am.

Setting the atmosphere ahead of the professional racers, junior and adult riders from Kelso Wheelers, Kelso Breezers, Live Borders Advanced Rider Development squad and current regional cycling champions along with this representatives of the hosts for this year’s championship event, Galashiels Academy Cycling Club, will ride along the start/finish straight.

The Scottish Borders stage will start in Kelso town centre, travel along the A698 to Coldstream before passing through Lennel en-route to Paxton. From there it will take the riders west, taking in Chirnside and Preston. Cutting across from Ellemford to Longformacus, the race will then drop down into Duns and pass through Gavinton and Westruther.

Gordon, Smailholm and then Clintmains all feature on the route before the climb to Scott’s View and descent to the foot of Leaderfoot viaduct. After passing through Gattonside, the riders will turn in to Melrose and climb Dingleton Hill before a fast run through Maxton to the finish line back in Kelso. The finish is estimated to be at around 3.15pm.

The 2019 OVO Energy Tour of Britain will finish in Greater Manchester on Saturday, September 14. Once again, ITV4 will screen three hours of live coverage of every stage, with broadcasters around the world also signed up to cover the event.