Tour of Britain hailed as tour de force for Borders economy as well as inspiring sporting spectacle
This year’s Tour of Britain cycle race, hosted by the Borders at the weekend, has been praised by council chiefs for delivering a fourfold boost to the region.
Not only is it the biggest spectacle the sport has to offer in the UK but it also generated welcome post-coronavirus lockdown income for businesses along the route, provided television viewers worldwide with a further reminder of this part of the country’s appeal as a tourist destination and has encouraged Borderers to get on their bikes, benefiting their health and the environment, they say.
The tour, sponsored by Manchester-based investment firm AJ Bell, arrived in the Borders on Saturday, ready for its seventh and penultimate stage to get under way in Hawick, watched by large crowds of spectators there and at numerous viewpoints along the rest of its route to Edinburgh via towns and villages including Roberton, Innerleithen, Stow, Lauder and Duns.
Belgian rider Yves Lampaert was the winner of that stage, but overall victory was claimed by his countryman Wout van Aert the day after.
Other top riders seen pedalling through the region included Tour de France legend Mark Cavendish and world champion Julian Alaphilippe.
Mid Berwickshire councillor Mark Rowley, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for economic regeneration and finance, welcomed the boost yielded by the eight-day race, saying: “For the eighth time in 12 years, the Borders has hosted the UK’s most prestigious road race, the Tour of Britain.
“Communities across the Borders got involved with fabulous window displays in Hawick, bikes and decorations in towns and settlements across the region and great crowds all around the route.
“Our communities really did themselves proud and offered great support to the riders.
“The route, from Hawick to the Ettrick Valley, Stow, Lauderdale and Berwickshire, provided a challenge for the world’s best, and the Borders landscape gave an exceptional setting and will have been viewed by many millions across the UK and around the world on TV and social media.
“That profile will create longer-term benefits, improving the Borders’ profile, encouraging more visitors and showing that Scotland starts here.
“Borderers’ passion for cycling of all sorts is clear to see, and as Scotland’s leading cycling destination, on and off road, it is vital we continue to invest and promote our area as the UK’s natural capital of cycling.
“Bringing national and international events to the Borders has exceptionally positive economic and social impacts. That is why I was keen that the council invested in bringing the Tour of Britain back and particularly having that great start in Hawick where its festival of cycling really captured the town’s imagination.
“I’m already looking forward to seeing another world-class bike event, the Enduro World Series, in the area later this month. This will be yet another huge opportunity for Borders to grasp and enjoy.”
Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall agreed, saying: “It was fantastic to see so many visitors from all areas of the country flock to our town at the weekend to support the Tour of Britain.
“This event certainly gave our town a massive and very welcome economic boost and it was great to hear of so many visitors staying overnight in the town.
“One family from Yorkshire following the tour from start to finish apparently commented on how they had been made to feel so welcome during their stay.
“Our town could certainly do with more of these very high-profile occasions and one must congratulate everyone involved in making this event the huge success that it was.”
Future Hawick’s Brian Bouglas added: “It was a great opportunity to showcase Hawick and a fitting culmination to the Hawick Festival of Cycling.
“The community got very involved in the whole event, with shops putting on window displays and decorating the streets with bikes.
“The crowds came out and the businesses had a great day. There was a real buzz about town, a feelgood factor, and it was a great sight to see Hawick busy and many visitors enjoying themselves and visiting businesses, helping support our local economy.
“The Tour of Britain was a great event and Hawick was proud to have it starting stage seven here and it would be great to see it return.”