Edinburgh will host the start of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain for the first time ever as Britain’s biggest professional cycle race begins in the Scottish capital and the Scottish Borders on Sunday 3 September.
Stage One of the race will head from Edinburgh’s Royal Mile through East Lothian and into the Scottish Borders with the finish coming in the town of Kelso.
The 188-kilometre opening leg will also include a 79-kilometre loop in the Scottish Borders, giving fans at the finish in Kelso town centre the opportunity to see the world’s top riders in action twice.
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming the Tour of Britain back to Scotland in September. The opening stage will take in some truly wonderful and iconic scenery as it travels from Edinburgh, through East Lothian and on to the Scottish Borders, providing an amazing spectacle for spectators and riders alike.
“Scotland is the perfect stage for cycling events and the Tour of Britain is a fantastic race that brings strong economic and social benefits to the country. EventScotland is proud to be long-term partner of the event.”
Craig Burn, Chief Executive of Scottish Cycling said: “Scottish Cycling love it when major events come and take advantage of Scotland’s fantastic roads and facilities. To have Stage One of the Tour of Britain for the second year in a row is even better. Across the past four years Scottish Cycling has grown massively, with membership exceeding 11,000. We know that major events have been key in helping this number to grow therefore securing and staging elite racing is fundamental to achieving our inspiration to participation strategy. They are also a great way of bringing communities together and we look forward to hearing the Scottish cheer on the day!”
Councillor Richard Lewis, Edinburgh's festivals and events champion, said: "This September will see the return of the UK's most prestigious cycling race to the Scottish capital as the Tour of Britain kicks off north of the border. Thousands of people turned out to see the 2015 leg in Edinburgh and this year’s event will be second chance to catch the spectacular sight.
"Edinburgh’s winding and cobbled streets offer a challenging and dramatic start to the Tour of Britain in Scotland. I’m sure the competitors will enjoy the thrill of hurtling through the Old Town.”
Tracey Logan, Chief Executive of Scottish Borders Council, said: “We are delighted to be hosting our second Tour of Britain stage finish and are especially pleased to have the addition of the loop, which will showcase why this is Scotland’s leading cycling destination. This will also hopefully encourage thousands of spectators to make their way to Kelso to witness some of the world’s top cyclists race through the town twice.”
Douglas Proudfoot, Head of Service (Development) at East Lothian Council, said: “It was an exciting first for East Lothian when the Tour of Britain passed through in 2015 so we’re absolutely delighted to be welcoming the race once again this year.
“The route through our picturesque towns, villages, coast and countryside was lined with eager spectators so I’m sure there will be even more support for the riders this year. It also highlights what a fabulous place East Lothian is for cyclists of all abilities.”
It will be the sixth time that the opening stage of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain has taken place in Scotland since the race was revived in 2004. The race has only once before visited Edinburgh, in 2015, while the Scottish Borders have hosted the event on four occasions, most recently in 2015 when Team Sky’s Elia Viviani won a stage finishing at Floors Castle outside Kelso.
Mick Bennett, OVO Energy Tour of Britain Race Director, said: “We are delighted to be able to start this year’s OVO Energy Tour of Britain from the very heart of Edinburgh for the first time, and a location that is famous the world over. The backdrop from the Royal Mile of St Giles Cathedral and the Castle will provide a fitting send off for the world’s top riders.
“That we have been able to work with our partners in the Scottish Borders to create a finishing loop will not only reward spectators at the finish in Kelso, but enable the race to showcase more of the area, including the Eildon Hills towards the end of the stage.”
OVO Energy, the UK’s top rated independent energy supplier was recently announced as the title sponsor of the Tour of Britain.
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 Sunday 3 and Sunday 10 September 2017.