Fife’s beautiful countryside and its geared up council have jointly helped to secure a major boon for the Kingdom.
The first stage of the inaugural Women’s Tour of Scotland will travel through our towns and villages.
The much anticipated route for the three-day, three stage 350km cycle tour was announced last week.
Alan Rushton, race director, told us why Fife had been selected to host the prestigious first stage.
He said: “The official start will depart from Dundee’s iconic waterfront area and the 103km stage will take in the Tay Road Bridge and travel down through the Kingdom of Fife to finish in Pittencrieff Park in Dunfermline.
“When we were looking at different areas to host stages, the beautiful countryside of Fife really stood out.
“The routes through the Kingdom are lovely and ending up in Scotland’s ancient capital Dunfermline, with its Abbey and Pittencrieff Park, will help showcase all that Scotland has to offer cyclists.
“The tour will be fully televised, using motorcyle cameras and a helicopter.
“We have signed a deal but I can’t reveal yet which channel it will be on.
“It will be great coverage for the Kingdom though.
“It will also be good for the competitors as the last 12km offers a much steeper climb than the rest of the route.
“It’s a challenging ride, ideal for the first stage.
“When looking for areas to host the tour, we also considered local authority support for it.
“Fife Council understood what we were trying to do and was geared up for it.
“The cycle development officer, Kirsteen Torrance, is a real dynamo and has been a huge support to us.”
Initially, the tour team considered St Andrews as a start or finish point.
However, the date clashed with the Lammas Market, Scotland’s oldest surviving medieval street fair.
Alan said: “Our route this year bypasses St Andrews but it would make a really nice location.
“We’re planning to ring the changes every year, though, so we’ve not ruled it out as a future location.”
The first Women’s Tour of Scotland was officially launched by its ambassador, Olympian, Commonwealth Games, World and Multiple European champion, Katie Archibald MBE.
She said: “This is a great route for a race and the sheer calibre of teams and riders who will be racing the first Women’s Tour of Scotland is really exciting.
“I’m proud to be involved with the tour and I really hope more women and girls will be inspired to start cycling as a result.”
Between 18 and 20 of the world’s leading elite teams will be taking part in this welcome addition to the international calendar of the worldwide governing body for cycling, the UCI.
It is the first time a women’s race has been brought before a men’s and the first time the prize money for an equivalent men’s race has been matched from day one.
Explaining why, Darren Clayton, managing director of Zeus Sports – the Official Rights Holder – said: “We have set out a clear commitment to break with tradition, putting women’s cycling, parity of pay and sustainability at the forefront of the event.
“Our ambition is to make the tour the most digitally connected race over the next five years and the world’s first climate positive sports event by 2020.”
Eileen Roe, the former British National Circuit Race champion from High Valleyfield, is proud to be a tour ambassador.
She said: “When I first began racing there were hardly any girls cycling. I’d be racing against the boys.
“A race like this will help inspire young girls to get out on their bikes.”
Fellow Fife resident Tom Bishop, president of Scottish Cycling, is also delighted that the tour is coming to the Kingdom.
He said: “The finish in Andrew Carnegie’s beautiful gift, the culturally rich Pittencrieff Park, will enable the vibrant local cycling community in Scotland and beyond to celebrate how cycling can transform lives.
“We hope seeing a top-level race up close will inspire women and girls to get on their bikes.”
The tour will be staged from August 9 to 11, coming to Fife on the first day; Glasgow to Perth the next, then finishing in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park.
Each start and finish will feature family activation zones for fans, spectators and families to get involved.
The free family day at Holyrood Park will also offer amateurs, enthusiasts and charity fundraisers the chance to ride the final stage.
For tickets and more details, visit womenstourofscotland.com or @womenstourscot.