Dundee has been chosen as the starting point for a major women’s cycling race as it welcomes elite teams from around the world.
The Women’s Tour of Scotland will saddle up at the city’s Slessor Gardens on August 9 and covers 217 miles over three stages across the country.
Up to 20 of the world’s leading teams will descend on the City of Discovery for the event which will take riders over the Tay Road Bridge before racing starts after they enter Fife.
Minister of Public Health and Sport and Wellbeing Joe FitzPatrick, pictured right, who was at the official launch of the tour along with local cyclists, said: “I’m really pleased the event is kicking off in my home city and there’s no better place to start than Slessor Gardens.
“That’s the point of Slessor Gardens – it’s been designed in a way that is adaptable.
“I’m hoping lots of people from Dundee and the surrounding areas come along to cheer on the cyclists as they start a really important international race.”
He added: “The Scottish Government has put considerable money into securing this event for Scotland so I’m pleased that Dundee is able to get the advantage of having it start here and it’s important we make the most of it.
“One of the things I’m hopeful of is that the race will inspire more people to take up cycling either as a formal sport, as recreation or even as a means of transport to get to work.”
Spectators, fans and cyclists from across the UK and worldwide will enjoy the women’s tour, which lasts three days and finishes in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park where the cyclists will be joined by Scottish television presenter Gail Porter.
Dundee City Council’s depute convener of city development Mark Flynn said: “Why wouldn’t Dundee be selected?
“We’re the city that’s going forward in Scotland and it’s a lovely venue to start the race from. There will be a number of things going on in the build-up to the event itself and it’s going to be very interactive.”
He added: “I think it just goes to show how much Dundee is in the limelight.
“They’re bringing a major event here and it’s the first time the women’s event in Scotland is going to be held ahead of the men’s event which is really quite unusual.
“We’re trying to break down all these barriers to encourage everyone to start cycling.
“There is a low number of women participating in cycling and we’re trying to look for events that encourage female athletes to cycle and get people out there.”
One of the up and coming cyclists inspired by the event is 10-year-old Lexa Whyte, fromForfar, who races for Discovery Cycling Club and took up the sport at the age of seven. She said: “I started doing races and enjoyed it and now I’m in the Scottish championships which I’ll be cycling in during the winter. I’m trying to get better at it.
“Most girls don’t really try cycling because some people think it’s a boy’s thing but everything is a girl and boy thing.
“So any girl who wants to start cycling should just keep trying and do what they want to do.”
Race organiser Darren Clayton said: “Dundee is really pushing the cycling programme so it fitted as the starting point.”
Olympic champion Katie Archibald has been named as Scotland team captain.