Thousands of spectators lined the route at the weekend for the opening stage of the Tour of Britain – which started in Edinburgh and culminated in a scintillating sprint finish in Kelso on Sunday.
The cycle race saw huge numbers of people gather at the Royal Mile – where it began – and in the Scottish Borders town where Australian Caleb Ewan won Stage One of the Ovo Energy sponsored event.
The route took in Duns, Coldstream, Scott’s View and Melrose, as well as Kelso on two occasions – for the first passage of the finish line at a start of a 79km loop of the central Borders and then the stage finish itself.
In addition to the thousands of spectators in Kelso town centre, who not only enjoyed the race pass twice but also the promotional village and live coverage on two big screens, many more came out along the route to watch some of the world’s top cyclists race by.
Councillor Mark Rowley, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Business and Economic Development, said: “Hosting events of national and international significance such as the Tour of Britain is a key part of the Council’s events and cycle tourism strategies and it was fantastic to see so many people in Kelso and along the route on Sunday.
“The town put on a great reception for the race, with some fantastic window displays and many businesses opened especially to cater for the many spectators. The support of Visit Kelso in this respect is greatly appreciated and shows the benefits of having such an enthusiastic local business group.
“Combined with the Tour O’ The Borders closed road sportive, which attracted almost 2,000 amateur riders, Sunday really showed why the Scottish Borders is Scotland’s leading cycling destination.”
Stuart Turner, Head of EventScotland, who was amongst the crowds in Kelso, added: “Once again the Scottish Borders has provided the perfect stage for a finish to the Tour of Britain.
“The atmosphere in and round Kelso was some of the best I’ve seen in the Tour’s history in Scotland and I was delighted to see so many people out lining the route and supporting the riders as they rode through the beautiful Borders towns and countryside.”
In addition to the window dressing competition, won by G&S Hair Salon in Roxburgh Street, and a static bike challenge in the town centre, Visit Kelso also arranged a bike decorating competition.
The winners of this were:
- 10 years and under category – Brodie Douglas
- 11-18 years – Gregor Forbes
- 18+ – Rebecca Eason
The Kelso Wheelers cycling club also arranged a range of on and off-road events over the course of the weekend, and club members enjoyed a ride across the finish line after the professionals had passed through for the first time.
Karen Hume of Visit Kelso said: “Hosting the stage finish of the Tour of Britain on Sunday was a fantastic occasion for Kelso and we are delighted that local traders and residents entered into the spirit of things and helped generate an incredible atmosphere in the town.
“Any business in the town which has not already joined the Visit Kelso group is encouraged to do so and help us achieve even more for the town, promoting the town and our businesses to as wide an audience as possible.”