A cycling legend believes that the excitement created by the arrival of the Tour Series in the north-east could inspire youngsters to become “Olympic champions”.
Stonehaven has been chosen as the location to start the final stage of the Tour of Britain this year, with the world’s top teams and riders racing through the countryside to finish in the heart of Aberdeen.
And after bringing the elite contest to a close on Sunday, September 13, the region will host the launch of the event in 2021.
Hugh Roberts, the chief executive of organisers SweetSpot, yesterday visited Aberdeen to discuss his plans to create a “legacy” for the sport in the region.
Speaking in Aberdeen’s townhouse, 50 yards away from where cycling greats will speed down Union Street in September, he hinted at plans to stage a five-day tour across Aberdeenshire and the Highlands in years to come.
Mr Roberts said: “All eyes will be on the finish in the north-east.
“Tens of thousands will come from outwith the region and bring with them an enormous economic impact on the city and shire.
“This will be the best-ever Tour in terms of the length of the country we get to span, and we want to create a legacy post 2021.
“We understand we can’t hold it in the north-east on an annual basis of course, but want to explore putting on a Tour of Scotland or a Tour of the Highlands and Aberdeenshire.
“It would be a five-day race in this part of the world, most likely in August.”
Pippa York, one of Britain’s most successful cyclists of all time, backed the idea yesterday.
York, who competed as Robert Millar, won the “King of the Mountains” competition in the 1984 Tour de France and finished fourth overall.
The success was the first time a British rider won a major Tour classification, and was unsurpassed as the highest Tour finish for a Briton for more than 20 years until Bradley Wiggins was retrospectively placed third in the 2009 Tour de France.
Her birthday, September 13, marks the date the Tour of Britain’s final leg will start in Stonehaven.
She said: “I always thought ‘why isn’t there a tour of Scotland to showcase what the country has to offer?’
“My brother used to live and work in Aberdeen and I did a road race round the loch in Inverness, but as a Scot there’s still huge parts of the country I’ve never seen.
“Tourism is now a major industry due to the death of traditional trades, so we need to showcase what we have to offer.”
The Glasgow-born cycling legend, who admitted she “only gets on her bike when it’s dry these days”, also hoped that those watching the Tour of Britain in the north-east this year would be inspired to do great things.
She said: “There’s nothing like seeing a cycling race like this on your front doorstep.
“And a percentage of those children will go on to do great things, they could be an Olympic or a world champion. It is inevitable.
“It doesn’t matter where they’re from, if they’re male or female – the opportunities are there.”
The Tour of Britain, which began in 2004, is broadcast in 180 countries and the north-east has long since fought to be included in a leg.
Yesterday it was also revealed that a special festival would focus on getting young people in the region into cycling, and that a special gala dinner will bring “cycling royalty” to the region.
Stonehaven and the Cairn O'Mount, an awesome start to the Aberdeen and Aberdeen stage of this exciting race in September. https://t.co/BGo63r32IH
— AberdeenshireCouncil (@Aberdeenshire) February 27, 2020
The 2020 Tour of Britain will begin in Penzance, Cornwall for the first time and stages will also be held in Devon and Cumbria during the eight-day race.
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