City leaders in Dundee are gearing up to welcome professional cycling’s top athletes for the first ever Women’s Tour of Scotland.
Olympic champion Katie Archibald will lead the Scottish team as they take on some of women’s cycling’s elite groups from around the world in a battle for the inaugural Baillie Gifford leaders jersey.
Teams will depart for the first stage from Dundee’s Slessor Gardens on Friday before entering Fife over the Tay Road Bridge and travelling through Cupar, Falkland and Leslie.
They will then cross into the Kinross area before racing back to West Fife, where the first stage will come to a thrilling conclusion at Pittencrieff Park, Dunfermline.
Stage 2 will set off at George Square in Glasgow on Saturday and finish at the council chambers in Perth.
The final stage, which will set off from Edinburgh on Sunday, will start and finish at Holyrood Park and take participants on a 118km heat through the Scottish borders, where organisers have promised a terrain offering both “beauty and brutality”.
Darren Clayton, managing director at the Women’s Tour of Scotland, said the race will be a “landmark event in a watershed year for women’s sport in Scotland”.
He said: “We are hugely excited to get underway. This event is the first of its kind and we were so honoured to be invited to hold it in Dundee – we always felt it would be the right place to launch it.
“I hope it will be a bit of an inspiration and I think we’re going to see that real appetite for competitive sport on Friday. You’re going to have people like Katie Archibald on the starting line, people that women and young girls can really aspire to.”
Dundee-based sports minister Joe FitzPatrick said the annual race, which is partly funded by EventScotland, will encourage people to get active and take up the sport.
He said: “I’m particularly excited by the Tour’s legacy and development programme, which alongside the professional race will not only inspire girls and women to take part in sport but also provide spectators and fans across all three stages the chance to get involved in cycling.”
Friday’s kick off event in Slessor Gardens will be open from 9.15am with family-friendly activities including a skills track with ramps, kickers, tabletops, seesaws and skinnies.
A number of local clubs and community groups will have an opportunity to take on a short circuit of the route before the race officially gets under way at 12.15pm.
Mark Flynn, deputy convener of Dundee City Council’s city development committee, encouraged “as many people as possible” to come down and cheer on the athletes.
Fife Council’s Active Fife team will be putting on a range of free activities in Pittencrieff Park on Friday, including Pilates for cyclists, a cycle speedway demo, balance bikes, a pump track and rides around the park from Cycling Without Age volunteers.
Provost of Fife Jim Leishman will present the day’s winners with jerseys shortly after the teams cross the finish line, which is expected to happen some time between 2.30pm and 3.15pm.
Judy Hamilton, convener of Fife Council’s community and housing services committee, said the Tour was a “great opportunity” to showcase Fife to cycling communities from across the world.