Further details of the start for this year’s Tour of Britain have been announced, confirming that Stage One of British Cycling’s premier road cycling event start from George Square, passing through more than 50 miles of East Ayrshire terrain on its way to Castle Douglas on Sunday 4 September.
George Square will also host a Team Presentation event on the Saturday evening, at which all 20 world-class teams competing in the race will be presented to the Scottish crowds, while taking place alongside the Start on the Sunday will be the Sky Ride Glasgow, which from Midday will give thousands of cyclists the chance to ride through the city on traffic free roads.
Welcoming the event to the city, Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow Life, Councillor Archie Graham OBE, said: “We are looking forward to what is shaping to be an incredible year of cycling in Glasgow and the Grand Depart of the Tour of Britain will be at the heart of it all.
“Just last month Glasgow was named as one of the world’s top five sporting cities and cycling has played a major part in our rise in recent years, with a number of leading events having taken place in the city including the 2013 British National Road Race Championships.
“We are looking forward to welcoming some of the world’s top cyclists back to our city in September. The people of Glasgow showed the world how much they loved sport during the best ever Commonwealth Games and I am sure they will turn out in their thousands for the Grand Depart.”
From George Square the opening stage will head through the city centre and through Glasgow Green and alongside the River Clyde before heading south out of the city into East Renfrewshire and East Ayrshire. It will mark the fifth time that Scotland has hosted Stage One of the Tour of Britain. The event is supported by EventScotland, Glasgow City Council and Dumfries and Galloway Council.
East Ayrshire will welcome much of the Stage One route for the first time with Stewarton, Kilmarnock and Cumnock all on the route before Stage One heads into Dumfries and Galloway for the finish in Castle Douglas.
East Ayrshire Provost, Jim Todd, said: “We look forward to welcoming the Tour of Britain cycling event to East Ayrshire in September.
“East Ayrshire is a land of rolling hills and is the perfect landscape for cyclists to test their abilities as they explore the delights and challenges our countryside has to offer.
“This will be a remarkable event not only for East Ayrshire, but for Scotland as a whole, as we welcome some of the top cyclists in the world to experience our stunning scenery and rich heritage first hand.”
It will mark the third time that a stage of the Tour of Britain has finished in Castle Douglas, and the tenth time that the race has either started, finished or race through Dumfries and Galloway and local organisers will be pulling out all the stops to make it, ‘a perfect 10’.
Dumfries and Galloway is home to rural Scotland’s only Major Festivals and Events Strategy, which has been a key factor behind the sustainable growth of superb events such as the Wigtown Book Festival, the Scottish Rally, Spring Fling Open Studios Weekend, the Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival and the Big Burns Supper, the Eden and Electric Fields Music Festivals and World Championship Curling and Ice Hockey tournaments.
Councillor Colin Smyth, Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Events Champion said, “Castle Douglas is a beautiful location for the Scottish stage Finish of this year’s Tour of Britain, and a wonderful place to visit for a cycling themed weekend.
“Dumfries and Galloway Council will do its utmost to support the Tour of Britain, which is one of the most popular events to have ever taken place in the region. Whether you want to simply spectate or do some gentle or strenuous road or mountain bike cycling, Castle Douglas will be the place to be for cycling fans this September.”
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “Cycling events like the Tour of Britain are massively important to the Scottish economy and in encouraging people to become more active, and we are delighted to bring such an inspiring event back for its opening stage in 2016.”
“I can’t think of a better setting for grand depart of this year’s Tour of Britain than Glasgow City Centre and I’m confident that visitors to the city are going to take great delight in bidding farewell to some of the world’s top cyclists as they embark on an eight-day race around the UK, as well as getting involved in the additional activity taking place on the day.
“After leaving the city, the cyclists are going to be treated to the scenic but challenging countryside of Dumfries and Galloway and East Ayrshire, which will demonstrate to viewers around the world why Scotland is the perfect stage for cycling events.”
Saturday evening’s Team Presentation will be a free-to-attend event taking place on George Square. Further details of the timings and format for the presentation will be announced in the coming months.
Vicky Strange, Head of Development for Scottish Cycling said, “Scottish Cycling is excited yet again this year to have the elite racing on our doorstep that the Tour of Britain brings. Glasgow has proven itself to be a cycling city over the past few years, with the Commonwealth Games and securing the European Championships for 2018, so to have the Grand Depart this year makes it all the more special.
“Securing and staging elite racing and major events in Scotland is fundamental to achieving our Inspiration to participation strategy. We will continue to utilise events such as the Tour of Britain to build strategic partnerships with Scotland’s local authorities and other stakeholders to drive our wider cycling ambitions with regards to getting more people riding bikes, be it through local clubs, participation programmes, competition or social cycling.”
Scotland has hosted ten stages of the modern Tour of Britain in previous editions, with Glasgow last welcoming the race in 2008. The city has hosted the race on four previous occasions, most notable the race start in 2005 and 2006, and the overall finish on Glasgow Green in 2007.
The 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.