The Tour Of Britain cycling event’s arrival in the north-east could face yet more disruption at the hand of coronavirus, council bosses have admitted.
Aberdeenshire Council has officially signed-off on hosting the postponed event next year and in 2022.
Organisers agreed the most northerly stage of the modern tour after the success of the smaller Tour Series events in Aberdeen in 2017, 2018 and 2019 – only for September’s race to be postponed due to the pandemic.
Stonehaven is to the be start line for the final leg of the country’s biggest cycling race, concluding in Aberdeen, before the grand depart from the Granite City in 2022.
Tour of Britain would be disappointing without spectators
Both councils have now completed the legal housekeeping to ensure it goes ahead, albeit delayed.
But Aberdeenshire’s head of economic development Belinda Miller warned it did not come without risk.
She said: “If there are ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, at the levels we are at at the moment, it would become an event that was very disappointing because we wouldn’t have any spectators out to see it.
“The whole point of hosting it, and us being enthusiastic about it, is as a tourism attraction and to inspire our own communities to get involved in cycling.
“We had a meeting with organisers Sweet Spot and the city council last week and they are off the same understanding as we are, as are all the other hosting stages, that the event should not go ahead with those levels of restrictions.
“It would not make sense to do so.
Both north-east local authorities have committed up to £135,000 to cover the cost of the race stage each year.
Ms Miller also warned “huge economic uncertainty” would make it “very difficult” to raise sponsorship for the event, though an upsurge in cycling in the pandemic would make it an attractive proposition.