Credit: Ruth W

Professional cyclists pedalling north as the Tour of Britain heads to Scotland

By Claire Thomson

The Tour of Britain is heading to Scotland this year with two stages set to be held north of the border.

The Tour of Britain, the UK’s biggest professional cycling race, is not only returning to Scotland for the 2021 edition in September, but finishing in the city of Aberdeen, with two stages north of the border for the first time ever. Scotland will witness this year’s Tour of Britain for the first time on the penultimate stage of the eight-day race on Saturday 11 September, as stage seven departs from Hawick in the Scottish Borders. 

Starting at Penzance in Cornwall, the Tour of Britain is scheduled to take place between Sunday 5 and Sunday 12 September 2021 and will feature over 100 professional cyclists from across the globe, with previous riders including Tour de France winners, world champions and Olympians such as Mark Cavendish, Chris Froome, and Geraint Thomas. The race follows on from last year’s absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic and it will be the first edition of the race to be part of the UCI ProSeries. 

Following many successful stages in the Scottish Borders, with the most recent being in 2019 when a full stage was held in the area, starting and finishing in Kelso town centre, stage seven of the race is set to begin in Hawick, which makes its Tour of Britain debut, and move north to finish in Edinburgh. Scotland’s capital will host its first stage finish of the modern Tour of Britain, with the race starts being previously held in the city in 2015 and 2017; the latter as part of a Scottish Grand Départ. 

The final stage of the Tour of Britain will leave from Stonehaven, a coastal town in Aberdeenshire and conclude in the city of Aberdeen itself on Sunday 12 September, marking the furthest point north that the race has ever visited. The stage route will encompass an ascent on the famous Cairn o’Mount climb in the opening kilometres of the stage, which will not only make for some breath-taking scenery but also exciting racing. Aberdeen’s historic city centre will host the crowning of the Tour of Britain’s overall winner as well as the podium presentations of the King of the Mountains, Sprinters, Points and Combativity jerseys and awards. The Aberdeenshire region is also planned to be host to the Grand Départ of the 2022 Tour of Britain. 

Following the unveiling of the stage routes in early March, Craig Burn, Scottish Cycling chief executive, commented to the Tour of Britain organisers and media team: “At Scottish Cycling we are thrilled to be welcoming the Tour of Britain to Edinburgh and Hawick. Major events are a brilliant way of inspiring more people to ride bikes in Scotland, therefore securing and staging elite racing is fundamental to achieving our ambition of developing a nation of cyclists. They are also a great way of inspiring the next generation of young riders, bringing together cycling clubs, schools and communities together to watch the best cyclists in the world race on Scottish roads.”

This was followed by a quote by Andy Kille, leader of Aberdeenshire Council, who said: “It is well acknowledged that this is a go-to destination for cycling with our scenery and spectacular landscapes. Not to mention some of the more challenging climbs which are being considered as options in our stage – these would make the Aberdeenshire leg unforgettable.”

Full route details, including interactive maps and stage timetables, will be available closer to the event along with team introductions and spectator opportunities. The Tour of Britain is a fantastic chance for cycling enthusiasts from across the UK to be a part of a major, international cycling event. Hopefully, the race spending two stages in Scotland will allow more people to enjoy the excitement of the sport and inspire the younger generation of future cyclists.


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