South Scotland

Tour of Britain to open with Edinburgh to Kelso stage

Andre Greipel Image copyright Tour of Britain
Image caption Last year's Scottish stage in the Tour of Britain ran from Glasgow to Castle Douglas

The Tour of Britain cycling race will open with a Scottish stage once again this year.

Edinburgh will host the start of the event for the first time with the finish line in Kelso in the Borders.

The 188-kilometre opening leg on Sunday 3 September will leave from the Royal Mile and race through East Lothian.

Riders face a 79-kilometre loop through the Borders which will allow fans at the finish in Kelso to see them race through the town twice.

Image copyright Tour of Britain
Image caption Thousands of fans turned out to watch the race in Scotland in 2016

Last year's event also opened with a Scottish stage from Glasgow to Castle Douglas which was won by German sprinter Andre Greipel.

VisitScotland's director of events Paul Bush said: "We are delighted to be welcoming the Tour of Britain back to Scotland this summer.

"The opening stage will take in some truly wonderful and iconic scenery as it travels from Edinburgh, through East Lothian and onto 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 fantastic race that brings strong economic and social benefits to the country."

Image copyright Tour of Britain
Image caption The first stage includes a lengthy loop through the Borders

Craig Burn, chief executive of Scottish Cycling, said the organisation loved to see major events come to the country.

"To have stage one of the Tour of Britain for the second year in a row is even better," he added.

"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."

Councils in Edinburgh, East Lothian and the Borders have all welcomed the announcement.

Image copyright Tour of Britain
Image caption Elia Viviani was the winner the last time a stage finished in the Borders

It will be the sixth time that the opening stage of the 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 Borders has 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.

Race director Mick Bennett 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."

After the Scottish stage, riders face a further seven legs in the event which finishes in Cardiff on 10 September.

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