Edinburgh will provide picturesque backdrop for Tour of Britain

Sunday January 24th 2021

Tour-of-Britain-Kelso-2017

The Tour of Britain passes through Kelso in 2017 on stage one having started in Edinburgh. Photo credit Simon Wilkinson www.swpix.com


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Joseph Anderson

Edinburgh councillors hope the city’s ‘winding and cobbled streets’ will provide a picturesque backdrop for the Tour of Britain – if the coronavirus restrictions allow the event to go ahead.

The Tour of Britain is set to return to the capital for the first time in four years, as Edinburgh City Council is set to approve a £70,000 grant in order to host the penultimate stage of the 2021 stage in September.

The eight-stage race will begin in Penzance on September 5 in what will truly be a cross-country event, as the final stage will start in Stonehaven and finish in Aberdeen on 12 September.

Edinburgh will host the penultimate stage, with the finish line being held in Holyrood Park and the start of the stage taking place in the Borders on September 11.

The last time the Tour came to Edinburgh in 2017 the route bypassed Midlothian, heading through East Lothian and then directly into the Borders. This time the stage will start in the Borders but the exact route has not been announced so it is not known yet if it will pass through Midlothian or if the county will miss out again.

The event is set to be free to attend, and Edinburgh City Council and Police Scotland will implement a system of rolling road closures as the stage enters the city.

Sighthill and Gorgie councillor Donald Wilson, who serves as the convenever of the culture and community committee, said:

“If approved at committee next week, we hope that this September will see the return of the UK’s most prestigious cycling race to the Scottish capital as the Tour of Britain concludes north of the border.

“Our vibrant cultural heritage, festivals and events offering are at the heart of what makes Edinburgh the extraordinary city it is, and we are committed to supporting the sector’s survival, return and future.

“It makes an important contribution to our economy and the quality of life of our communities.

“We very much look forward to the return of events in the capital but all of the events being considered at our meeting can only take place if coronavirus protection is at the appropriate level and they will all be required to comply with the relevant Scottish Government guidance at the time of the event.”

Leith Walk councillor Amy McNeese-Mechan, and vice convener of the culture committee, said:

“Edinburgh’s winding and cobbled streets and unique backdrop offer a challenging, dramatic and of course picturesque finale to the Tour of Britain in Scotland.

“If the event can go ahead, this will be an exciting return for the city and a highlight for 2021 as keen cyclists from all over the world come to the Capital.

“As with previous visits, the race would be managed in full consultation with our public safety and roads teams, as well as Police Scotland, and will take place on roads which will be closed for a short period, using the rolling road closure technique where teams of trained motorcycle escorts ensure safe passage through the city.”

A report, set to go before the local authority’s culture and communities committee on Tuesday January 26, reads: “There has been a huge upsurge of interest in cycling in recent years, and the event will be free to attend for spectators, who will get to see some of the world’s top cyclists racing through Edinburgh streets.

“As always, the race will be managed in full consultation with the council’s public safety and roads teams, as well as Police Scotland, and will be achieved on roads which will be closed only for a short period using the tried and tested rolling road closure technique, which involves teams of trained motorcycle escorts to ensure safe passage through the city.

“The event is likely to bring a significant economic impact for Edinburgh, as it will attract spectators from around Britain and further afield.

“It is recommended that £70,000 is allocated from the 2021/22 events budget.”

Previous tours have drawn large crowds, and have enjoyed live coverage on ITV4, plus various highlight shows on other channels.

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