Scotland gets tour opener

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The 2011 edition of The Tour of Britain will begin with a unique stage in Scotland, showcasing the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway as the perfect stage for the UK's biggest professional cycle race and largest free–to–watch live sporting event.

The opening 170 kilometre stage will begin in Peebles, hosts of the 2011 Grand Depart of The Tour of Britain, before heading through the Scottish Borders to Dumfries. Spectators in the county town of Dumfries & Galloway will have the opportunity to see the action twice, as riders cross the finish line after around 100 kilometres of racing before completing a 70 kilometre loop around the coast of the Solway Firth that leads them back to Dumfries for the first stage finish of the 2011 Tour. This years opening stage of The Tour of Britain will showcase some of the best scenery that Scotland has to offer and provide an exciting and memorable start to this years race, said Mick Bennett, race director of The Tour of Britain. After a years absence from Scotland we are delighted to be returning in 2011, the year of Active Scotland, continued Bennett. The unique finishing loop on this years opening stage also provides a great chance for spectators to see the race twice, which will make for a great atmosphere in Dumfries. Amateur cyclists will also have the opportunity to take on the challenge of the Scottish stage of The Tour of Britain and raise money for The Prostate Cancer Charity a week before The Tour comes to town. Taking place on Sunday 4 September, The Prostate Cancer Charity Tour Ride Scotland will take place between Peebles and Dumfries, allowing riders a sneak preview of what the professionals will face in the opening stage. As well as the opportunity to ride the full distance of Stage One, riders will also be able to opt for a Challenge Ride that starts and finishes in Dumfries, taking in the coastal loop. Paul Bush OBE, chief operating officer for EventScotland said: Scotland is looking forward to welcoming The Tour of Britain and its many supporters in September. Cycling in Scotland is continuing to grow in popularity – both recreationally and competitively. We have seen the number of cycling events supported through our funding increase in 2011, the year of Active Scotland which is wonderful. The Tour of Britain headlines Scotlands cycling calendar providing locals a chance to witness this spectacle on their doorstep, and bringing visitors north of the border to enjoy the racing action along with the many wonders the two host regions have to offer.

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