The Tour of Britain cycle race arrives in Dumfries and Galloway on Sunday.
The UK’s biggest live sports event will roll through Gretna, Annan and Dumfries before heading to Drumlanrig Castle.
Interest in the event is expected to be huge, with a star-studded cycling field given added spice by the participation of Sir Bradley Wiggins. Other competitors include Nairo Quintana, this year’s King of the Mountains jersey winner at the Tour De France, and Alex Dowsett, the British time trial champion for the past three years.
In 2011 and 2012 Mark Cavendish thrilled local cycling fans with heroic sprint finishes at rain-lashed Whitesands. This year he will be hard-pressed to repeat the feat, as the Scottish stage of the tour is a mammoth, hilly 209 kilometres.
The focal point of the event in Dumfries and Galloway will be at Drumlanrig Castle, where a comprehensive programme of entertainment is being put on by Buccleuch Estates and Dumfries and Galloway Council. Visitors are requested to arrive early, to enjoy the farmers’ market, 7stanes display team, the giant screen showing live coverage of the race and much more. Spectators are reminded that entry to the event is free, but that the gates close at 2pm.
The race will come up the Castle Avenue before doing a loop of the local country roads and finishing in front of the forecast crowd of 8000 spectators.
Mick Bennett, race director, said: “The final preparations are now in place and we are looking forward to beginning our 2013 Tour of Britain with a spectacular weekend of cycling in Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders.”
Jo Jones, the events and hospitality manager at the castle, said: “Buccleuch Estates are delighted to host the finish of the first stage of the Tour of Britain and we look forward to welcoming the many spectators who will be supporting the cyclists on the day. Drumlanrig is an ideal venue for the sprint finish thanks to the splendid approach to the front of the castle. It will be very dramatic.”
More than 140 countries will televise the race in highlights format, Eurosport will cover it live with extended highlights on ITV4 the same evening. There will be wide spread coverage in the broadsheets and tabloid media, and online, which can promote Dumfries and Galloway’s rich cycling heritage and world class mountain bike cycling trails.
Fur full event details go to www.tourofbritain.co.uk